Creativity Challenge: Arts Education in California’s Court and Community Schools

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Benge, C., Lee, M., Zamora, M.C. & Woodworth, K. (2022). Creativity Challenge: Arts Education in California’s Court and Community Schools. SRI International.


This study examines arts education access for students served by California’s district community day schools, county community schools, and juvenile court schools; which we collectively refer to as court and community schools (CCS). Although CCS serve a small percentage of the state’s school-age population and operate differently from traditional public schools, CCS students have the same legal rights to education that all of California’s K–12 students have but are typically excluded from research projects examining course access. As an extension of research conducted for Creativity Challenge: The State of Arts Education in California, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation engaged SRI to do a focused study on the state of arts education in California’s court and community schools.

Specifically, this study sought to address the following research questions: What federal and state policies establish expectations and support the provision of arts education in CCS? What access do CCS students have to sequential, standards-based arts education?  How does access to sequential, standards-based arts instruction vary by discipline? What barriers impede increased access to and participation in arts instruction? Who provides arts instruction? What instructional delivery methods are used? What resources support arts instruction? What roles do school and district leaders, county offices of education, and partner organizations play in supporting arts instruction?

To address these questions, we conducted a policy and literature review (including the review of County Local Control and Accountability Plans), fielded a survey to all CCS principals, reviewed extant data, and conducted case studies of five CCS sites.

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