LATA is on schedule to meet or exceed all of its proposed goals and objectives for the project year. For the period ending March 30, 2012, LATA served 5,154 K-6 students in 115 classes from inner-city schools in Central Los Angeles, during four 7-week terms. Staff designed lessons and developed curricula in compliance with California state arts standards. The curricula focused on two key areas: remedial Language development needs (for K-6 grade English Learners) and arts learning towards meeting grade level standards. The curricula incorporated 1) best practices for teaching English Learners; 2) language arts standards; 3) arts learning standards, 4) multiple intelligence instructional approaches; 5) hands-on learning methods; 6) differentiated strategies for engaged learning; and 7) cultural relevance. Lesson plans utilized pedagogical methods that have proven effective in fostering language development in English Learners, including cooperative learning, collaborative interaction and sheltered instructional approaches that built on the students’ experiences and cultural perspectives.
Participating students have exhibited a wide range of language proficiency, ranging from 1-3 English Language Development levels (ELD’s). Students entering the program at low to mid-range proficiency (ELD Levels 1, 2 and 3 on a scale of 1-5) hold the greatest promise of benefiting from this arts engagement – that is, it is anticipated that the impact of the program within this group will be such that, post-participation, these children will demonstrate measurable progress in their oral and written language skills. English Language Development is viewed as a continuum in which students rarely move from one full ELD level to another within one school year. It is a goal of the program to support students’ movement on this scale, by helping them to develop the skills needed to move along the levels. As a measure of success in affecting the capabilities that contribute to an increase or change in an ELD Level, LATA’s objective is for a sampling of students assessed from the designated sub-groups to show an increase in the skills that contribute to an increased ELD Level (noted as any change at any ELD level). Process Charts and Student Journals are currently being utilized to gather this data to be analyzed at school year-end.
As a research-motivated organization, Inner-City Arts is interested in examining the impact of our programs on student learning (cognitive, academic and social), utilizing current arts education field research, the results of research conducted by independent evaluators at Inner-City Arts, and internal assessments of programs conducted by our program staff. In 1997-2002, Inner-City Arts and the Los Angeles Unified School District partnered in a unique project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Bilingual Education, Title VII. Through a five-year study, Arts for Language and Learning Project (Project ALL) served the needs of English Learners through direct studio experiences, aiming to improve the school district's Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), and fostered staff development training programs. The project served as an important model for future facilities promoting academic, cognitive and mathematics skills through arts-based education. The results of this study showed that when students participate in studio classes and the teacher is not engaged, student performance is adversely affected. The analysis of standardized testing showed an 18% increase in reading scores, an 8.3% increase in language scores, and a 34% increase in mathematics scores for students participating for a full year whose teachers participate in ten or more hours per week.
This work has informed best practices to engage English Learners through immersion in art-making processes as an inherent part of their learning. In the current LATA program, within the delivery of high quality, standards-based, sequential instruction in the arts lies a specific goal to cultivate arts skills while furthering language development in K-6 grade students. Currently in year two of a 4-year, $1.4 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the support and independent evaluation of LATA, Inner-City Arts has employed the professional services Dr. James Catterall, of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and Dr. Kylie Peppler of the University of Indiana, to evaluate three areas of learning: arts skills, language learning and sense of community. Data collection began in March 2012, and will continue for a 1.5 year period, until September 2013.
As part of the LATA program, classroom teachers accompanied their students for the seven-week sessions and participated alongside their students in the art activities. Teachers have received professional development training as a result of their participation in the class sessions at Inner-City Arts. This hands-on instruction and additional training sessions for the teachers facilitates the integration of arts instruction into the classroom by defining connections between the arts and other aspects of the core curriculum. The orientation and mid-session meetings focused on the introduction of new methodologies that allow for the creation of creative learning environments in the classroom, arts-integrated lesson planning and continued use of arts integration strategies across the curriculum, in all subject areas. Mid-session meetings also introduced teachers to the use of the Process Chart, a key programmatic evaluation tool. In addition, approx. 45 teachers from Cahuenga Elementary School participated in two introductory professional development sessions, and 38 teachers from Del Olmo Elementary School participated in three ½ day sessions. These sessions included experiential learning in the visual and performing arts, with specific strategies introduced for connecting with English Language Development goals.
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