For years, school boards, education associations, government officials and administrators, have been making the claim that changes in school structure and organization will improve reading, writing, math, and attendance. Often these changes include cutting the music programs either completely or in part.
The thought process behind these initiatives is that more time in the “core” subjects will lead to higher test scores. Over the past 35 years, we have seen trends ranging from block scheduling to 6-block rotational schedules to any number of variations on a theme designed to put students in more math and reading classes.
During the course of that time, we have seen SAT scores drop from the 1972 average of 530 in Critical Reading to a dismal 494 in 2017*.
Well, it’s time for true change, and it’s time for school administrators to finally put their money where their mouth is. There is now an incredible case study on how music education can create profound positive change on the success of a school.
The case study comes from a poor inner-city school in Bradford Moor, England. The demographics of Feversham Primary Academy shout failure based on their statistical data:
99% of its children speak English as a second language
Half arrive having no English skills at all
The area around the school is one of the city’s most deprived and densely populated neighborhoods
The multi-national community is noted for racial tensions.
Any one of these demographics would alarm any statistician and cause them to condemn the future of these students, without ever setting foot in the school!
And Feversham was living up to those expectations seven years ago.** The country’s education watch dogs had placed the school in it’s Special Measures category in 2010 and even took measures to replace the governing body of the school.
However, Feversham Primary School is now ranked in the top 10 percent of the country in reading, writing & math!
So what were the changes the administration implemented to bring about such drastic positive change? What were the changes that took a school in crisis to a school topping the national charts?
School administrator Naveed Idrees implemented a mandatory six hours of music instruction each week for every child. The musical instruction includes individual instruction, group instruction and music assemblies with guest artists***.
Since implementing the new strategy, Feversham has
seen 74% of its pupils achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and math, against a national average of 53%.
scored 7.1 points above the average for reading and 3.4 above for writing.
scored 6.5 points above the national average in mathematics.
These results are proof that a rigorous curriculum of music instruction improves the overall success of the students. As an added bonus to this new plan, Feversham has seen its attendance rate soar to 98% over the past seven years!
So, I repeat my original question, again:
School Administrators, when are you going to put your money where your mouth is?
* SOURCE: https://blog.prepscholar.com/average-sat-scores-over-time
** SOURCE: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/7985429.Primary_school_is_now_officially__failing_/
*** SOURCE: https://ideapod.com/derelict-school-becomes-national-leader-making-making-surprising-subject-compulsory/