Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-16-2022


The purpose of this study was to capture the student voice regarding the value, importance, and relevance of visual and performing arts education in public schools. The host institution for the study was an urban school district in the southern central United States serving 75,000 students, with 55% students identified as Hispanic, and 52% of students experiencing poverty. Graduating seniors responded via questionnaires with forced choice and open-ended items regarding several topics, including what they do in their free time, how they perceive the value of arts classes at school, access to arts classes and the match of their interests and their satisfaction with the courses they took. Data were disaggregated and analyzed by demographic groups, including gender, race, socioeconomic status and participation in programs like emerging bilingual and special education to identify the similarities and differences in student responses. Major findings revealed that students indicated they personally value arts more than their peers or adults, plan to pursue arts after graduation, believe arts are extremely (42.9%) and somewhat (42%) relevant to success in life, rarely (29.5%) or never (17.1%) participate in arts activities with their families, and do not participate in arts outside of school (24.1%). Overall, students at campuses with lower percentages of students experiencing poverty were more satisfied and courses matched their interests. They also had better access to arts programs when selecting and registering at school and in the community. Conversely, students of color, experiencing poverty, in special circumstances (EB, SPED, MOB), and students with fewer arts classes, noted less access, less match with their interests, and more dissatisfaction with the choices available. Students wanted to be heard as evidenced by their high completion rates of the open-ended items, where they also illustrated the successes and challenges of virtual and limited arts participation during the pandemic. A strategic framework is proposed to address excellence and equity in the arts in schools.


student voice, equity in education, fine arts, music, theatre, dance

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Arlie Woodrum

Third Committee Member

Tyson E.J. Marsh

Fourth Committee Member

Viola E. Florez