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2017 NJ Arts Education Census Project


Third Installment of the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project Reveals Only 11% of Students Have Access to All Four Arts Disciplines

WARREN, N.J. – Widely acknowledged as a national leader in arts education, New Jersey is now reaching the point of “universal access” to arts education for all students, according to a new research study by Arts Ed NJ as part of the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project. The census report, ARTS ED NOW: Every Child, Every School revealed that during the 2015/2016 school year, 99% of New Jersey schools representing 99.4% of students provided arts education.

The census also showed that only 26 schools statewide (serving 9,160 students) reported offering no arts instruction, a dramatic reduction from a decade ago when more than 77,000 students did not have access. Once universal access is achieved, New Jersey will be the first state in the nation to be able to make this claim, according to Robert Morrison, director, Arts Ed NJ, which co-sponsored the census. However, while statewide arts education access is broad, only 11% of students enjoy access to all four arts disciplines – dance, music, theater and visual art – as required by state code.

There is more positive news: Seventy-six percent of all students (nearly 1 million) participated in one or more arts education offering during the census year, including 93% of elementary, 86% of middle and 46% of high school students. Overall participation has shown steady gains, increasing by 11%, or more than 105,000 students since 2011, and 140,000 students since 2006. Likewise, Per-Pupil Arts Spending (PPAS) has increased by 12% in elementary and middle schools and 15% in high schools since 2011.

“This report shows how educators and communities are working hard to provide all students access to arts education,” said New Jersey Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington. “By working to engage all students with high-quality arts education across the state, we are giving our students more opportunities to use their voice of creativity and providing them skills that will help them be successful beyond high school.”

Morrison cautions that more work needs to be done, noting that there are still more than 80,000 elementary and middle school students who should be participating in the arts (based on state policies) that are not, as well as another 40,000 or so high school students who could also be participating that are not.

Moreover, when it comes to per-pupil arts spending and student/arts teacher ratios, the census revealed that both measures are more favorable in schools serving more affluent populations – something not found a decade ago.

“This is an equity issue of great importance, centered on the significant documented benefits provided through active participation in arts education,” said Morrison. “In a world where imagination, creativity and innovation are sculpting our future, ensuring we provide the inspiration for these skills for all students must be our goal.”

The New Jersey Arts Education Census Project is a collaborative partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Department of Education, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Arts Ed NJ, ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and Quadrant Research. ARTS ED NOW: Every Child, Every School is the follow-up report to the nationally acclaimed 2007 and 2012 reports, Within Our Power: The Progress, Plight and Promise of Arts Education for Every Child and Keeping the Promise: Arts Education for Every Child, The Distance Traveled – The Journey Remaining. The release coincides with the expansion of the Arts Ed Now statewide public awareness campaign to raise the visibility of arts education in schools and communities, and comes on the heels of a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released last week showing that most New Jerseyans believe that arts education is important for all students.

Other key findings of the third census include:

  • More than 83,000 elementary and middle school students who should be participating in arts education (based on state requirements for elementary and middle school students) do not.
  • Participation in art (69%) and music (62%) were highest among the four arts disciplines. Visualart and music are also the most widely available of the arts disciplines, at 94% and 96%, respectively. Only 6% of schools offer all four arts disciplines, as required by state policy.
  • Per-Pupil Arts Spending (PPAS) increases as poverty levels (measured by free and reduced-pricelunch and District Factor Groups) decrease. Additionally, as chronic absenteeism increases, PPAS decreases.
  • There are 8,046 arts educators employed state-wide. There are 3,521 visual art, 3,864 music,420 theater and 241 dance educators state-wide.
  • The overall student-to-arts-teacher ratio is 162:1. For visual art, the ratio is 377:1; for dance, itis 5,713:1; for music, it is 333:1; for theater, it is 3,199:1. The ratio becomes less favorable as the percentage of students receiving free/reduced price lunch or the level of chronic absenteeism increases.
  • Ninety-three percent of all schools in the state participate in some cultural activity. Thisincludes field trips (83%), assemblies (69%), long-term partnerships (28%) and artist-in- residencies (17%). These represent declines in all categories since 2006. The majority of schools (65%) engage in two or more cultural activities. However, cultural participation has declined significantly since 2006.
  • Forty-six percent of all schools reported using arts integration. Yet, only 3% of all schools report regularly planning lessons between the arts specialist and the classroom teacher.

“The Arts Education Census data identifies the status and condition of arts education which is so important to our children’s success—both academically and socially,” said Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. When it comes to educating our children, everyone has something at stake, and we hope that more New Jerseyans use their voices and the Arts Ed Now campaign tools to ensure that all children from pre-K through high school have access to arts education.

”“Third time’s a charm. Once again, this groundbreaking research has given us something to both celebrate and to shoot for: universal access and universal participation,” states Nick Paleologos, executive director, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “But most important, it has underscored New Jersey’s leadership role nationally in arts education advocacy.”


All public school principals in New Jersey were required by the Commissioner of Education to provide data on arts education from their school for this Arts Education Census Project. The participation rate is 99.3% of the 2,329 public and charter schools required to take part representing 1,295,466 students. Data were provided by the schools via a special on-line questionnaire to Quadrant Research. The data were then forwarded to Cypress Research for statistical analysis, which forms the basis of this report.

The complete report may be downloaded at http://artsednj.org/2017-arts-education-census/

Individual school information may be found at https://artsednow.org/

Information about the 2017 Rutgers-Eagleton Public Opinion Survey on arts education may be downloaded at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-arts-education-nj-sept2017/ 



Just Released- Arts Ed Now Teacher Toolkit!

Resources for educators to be effective advocates for arts education, all year long!

The Beat: Arts Ed NJ’s Monthly Newsletter – September 2017

September is here and it is going to be a September to remember. In the Arts Education world in New Jersey the next month is beyond busy. Here’s what is happening:



September 12, 2017

Contact: Robert Morrison

Email: bob@artsedresearch.org




WARREN, NJ: For the third consecutive year, Arts Ed NJ is conducting a School Board Candidates Survey on Arts Education. The survey provides all candidates running for local School Board the opportunity to share their views about arts education with voters in their district. The 2017 Survey on Arts Education is a public service as part of the ARTS ED NOW campaign.

All 2,003 school board candidates running for election on November 7, 2017 were mailed a letter with instructions for participation in the survey. The deadline for participation is September 29, 2017. All responses will be posted on the Arts Ed NJ website at www.artsednj.org/survey2017 on October 13th.

A statewide network of organizations, including Arts Ed NJ, ArtPride New Jersey, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Art Educators of New Jersey, New Jersey Music Educators Association, Dance New Jersey, Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey and many others will promote the link to thousands of prospective voters. This will provide voters an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of each candidate’s views on arts education.

Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation, with additional support from the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society.

Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue. The campaign is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website www.ArtsEdNow.org features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors – together. Arts Ed Now was initiated by Arts Ed NJ, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Americans for the Arts and now includes hundreds of organizations and individuals across New Jersey.

Arts Ed Now: Teacher Contest 2017! Win $ For Your Class!

What Does an Arts Ed Ambassador Look Like?

Answer the question with a 3-photo “storyboard” on social media and be entered to win an Amazon Gift Card for your classroom.


Take 3 creative pictures that show how you or your school are an ambassador for active arts education in your school or community.

Submit on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter 
(TIP: On Instagram, pick the “select multiple” option.)

Include the name of your school

Tag @ArtsEdNow & hashtag #IAmArtsEdNow

For More Details Go To: artsednow.org/teacher-contest-2017/

The Beat: Back to School Edition. August 2017

The Beat Back to School Edition August 2017

Commendation Presented To Sussex Avenue RENEW School

This past year was the school’s 3rd year with Artists In Education program (AIE), and they’ll be joining us again next year as an AIE school. Each year, the school has worked with teaching artist Kit Sailer on three different visual arts projects. This current school year (2016-17), Kit worked closely with the Principal, Darleen Gearhart, and the art teacher, Nelson Alvarez, on a project that was created by the 6th and 8th grade students. The students created a mosaic mural using glass tiles. The inspiration for the design came from music. Principal Gearhart arranged for rap artist President Philson to join the residency for a brief period. During his time with the students, President Philson led the students through exercises where each student wrote their own rap lyrics. These lyrics were then used as the inspiration for the design that the students created with Kit. The entire project was overseen and supported by the school’s AIE Partner, Jackie Knox, from Young Audiences NJ & Eastern PA.

On May 25th, the school held their annual Family Art Day, where the mosaic was unveiled. It is located on the school’s playground, and the students, staff, and community are thrilled about the students’ work. Earlier this year, AIE reached out to Assemblywoman Blonnie R. Watson, who represents the community where Sussex Aveneue RENEW School is located (in Newark). We reached out to let her know about the grant the school received and their work with arts education. Assemblywoman Watson recently presented the school with a commendation (attached), and we couldn’t be more proud that the school is getting this much-deserved recognition. Sussex Avenue RENEW School truly understands and celebrates the importance of arts education, and we are proud to be working with them again next year. AIE is extremely grateful to the NJ State Council on the Arts and Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania for their support of the AIE program.

Michelle Baxter-Schaffer, Artists in Education Administrator
Artists in Education Program


New Voices: Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department Showcase

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department hosted their sixth dance showcase, New Voices. The Dance Department is part of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, one of four career-aligned academies under the umbrella of Trenton Central High School. The evening featured performances by students in the Boys Dance Too Ensemble, the Dance I classes, and Choreographer’s Workshop, showcasing a range of experience from students who performed for the first time to those wishing to professionalize. Throughout the evening the celebration of student voice was the unifying factor. All of the pieces presented were either collaboratively choreographed between students and dance educator, Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski, or completely student conceived, choreographed, and directed.


The six student-choreographed works were the culminating project of the Choreographer’s Workshop class. The pieces ranged from exploring themes of identity, depression, cultural celebration, relationship building, dystopian society, and an exploration of movement qualities. Throughout the semester the students worked up to this project by exploring different improvisation scores and stimulus to inspire movement generation, applying conventional choreographic devices, structures, and forms, and creating proposals for their works including a project description, artistic statement, resume, and biography. After the students proposed their works, they collaboratively split their classmates as cast members and directed student rehearsals for the remainder of the semester. The curricular scope at TCHS presents a gradual release model that informs, nurtures, hones, and presents student voices. As TCHS Principal, Hope Grant, reflected in her closing announcement at the showcase, “This is a program that allows the students to become the teachers, and the teacher to become the facilitator”.

In its third year, the TCHS Dance Department has demonstrated growth in curricular development, student recognition, and community partnerships. This year marks the program’s first professionalization of two dancers who are choosing to study dance at the collegiate level. We are also proud to announce 2017 graduate, Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez, was named the Dance Recipient for the NJ 2017 State Showcase Scholarship. Community partnerships were strengthened in and outside of the classroom. During the fall, all male modern dance company, 10 Hairy Legs, was in residence with the Dance Performance Skills students.   Additionally, Trenton is one of the Kennedy Center’s partner sites for Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child.

The program assists communities in developing and implementing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools, ensuring access and equity for all students through the model of collective impact. As dance continues to develop in Trenton, I would be remiss if I did not thank the leadership for supporting the vision for a strong dance education. Many thanks are in order to Vice Principal of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Melissa Wyatt, Principal of Trenton Central High School, Hope Grant, and Supervisor of Fine & Performing Arts, Norberto Diaz. As we gear up for next year, I am wishing all NJ arts educators and arts partners a restful summer.


Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski B.F.A., Ed.M

Dance Educator

Visual & Performing Arts Academy

Trenton Central High School




Highlights from 2017 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival & Scholarships

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival commenced the 2nd year of its return and revival at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ on May 31st, June 1st and 2nd. Thousands of students, teachers, parents and arts advocates from across New Jersey gathered at Ocean County College for the three day state-wide showcase and celebration the accomplishments in arts education by educators and their pupils. This educational and community driven event would not be possible without the generous support of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, New Jersey Education Association, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival is the statewide culminating celebration of the arts dedicated to inspiring New Jersey teen artists, educators, professional artists and arts advocates from all across the state to unite as one grand and all-inclusive community. The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival strives to connect Teen Artists across the state to inspire collaborations amongst the young creative minds to invest in the pursuit of artistic professions and New Jersey Artist Network. Students and Educators from 16 different counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Union. Festival attendees partook in the Showcase-Adjudication process, Professional Development for teachers, the College Fair, Professional Guest Artist Performances and Master Class Workshops for students.

There were a number of Master Class Workshops offered for students such as Behind the Puppet Stage which introduced students and educators to the diverse and multifaceted art form of Puppetry, taught by Bart P. Roccoberton, Jr., Director of the world renowned Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut. Some additional Master Class Workshops offered were Hip-Hop Dance taught by NYC Choreographer, Doug Elkins, Charcoal Portraits taught by Atlantic City based artist, Luz Sanchez and Ceramics: Empty Bowls Raising Hunger Awareness taught by sculptor and activist artist Mil Wexler. The bowls created by the New Jersey Teen Artists in Mil Wexler’s ceramics workshop will be donated to raise money for those in need at an event hosted by Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen in Toms River, NJ later in the Fall.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival, in addition, honored the 2017 Arts Educator of the Year, Valerie Y. Synder-Grollman, who was honored on June 2nd at a ceremony for her dedication to her students and arts departments in North Brunswick Township High School. Selected Students as well were recognized by the State Festival for their artistic accomplishments in the form of nine individual State Showcase Scholarships, who are as follows: Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez for Dance, Isaiah Petit Compere for Theatre, Tyler Sacko for Instrumental Music, Olivia Youngman for Vocal Music , Kaite Nguyen for Filmmaking, Rebecca Oldham for Creative Writing, Sarah Vargas for 2D Visual Arts, Maria Lu for 3D Visual Arts, Carolyn Galgano for Photography.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival will return again in the spring of 2018. please follow the State Festival on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & YouTube: @NJTEENARTS and visit www.njteenarts.com to stay up to date with all things NJ Teen Arts!

2017 State Showcase Scholarship Recipients! Check them out!

Congratulations to all!

And thank you to Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for supporting the 2017 State Showcase Scholarships!

The 2017 State Showcase Recipients:

Rebecca Oldham
Cedar Creek High School
Atlantic County

Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez
Trenton Central High School
Mercer County

Kaite Nguyen
Ocean Township High School
Monmouth County

Tyler Sacko
Toms River High School East
Ocean County

Carolyn Galgano
Sparta High School
Sussex County

Isaiah Petit Compere
Ewing High School
Mercer County

Maria Lu
Bridgewater Raritan High School
Somerset County

Sarah Vargas
Bergen County Academies
Bergen County

Olivia Youngman
Point Pleasant Borough High School
Ocean County

Harrison H. Haney

NJ State Teen Arts Coordinator

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September 12, 2017
The Beat: Arts Ed NJ’s Monthly Newsletter – September 2017

September is here and it is going to be a September to remember. In the Art...