To inform California policymakers about the status of arts education, SRI examined student access to arts education in California schools and conducted follow-up studies examining factors influencing K–12 arts education. The research resulted in a series of reports titled An Unfinished Canvas.
Policies enacted at both the state and federal levels demonstrate a commitment to arts education. In 2001, the California State Board of Education adopted content standards for the visual and performing arts. In 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, with provisions recognizing the arts as a core subject, was signed into law. Beginning in 2005–06, students seeking admission to the University of California and California State University systems are required to take one full year of arts education coursework during high school.
Despite expectations and enthusiasm for instruction in the arts, little information about California students’ access to and performance in the arts was available, and statewide information about the delivery of arts education was lacking.
To better inform policymakers and arts education funders about the status of arts education in California, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded SRI International to conduct a study to examine students’ access to arts education in California schools (published in 2007), followed by a series of follow-up studies examining some of the factors influencing K–12 arts education (published in 2008 and 2009).