The Beaverton School District Arts for Learning (A4L) Lessons Project, An Investing in Innovation (i3) Development Grant: Student Impact Findings from Years 1, 2, and 3
WestEd’s Evaluation Research Program recently completed a study that evaluated the impact of the Arts for Learning (A4L) Lessons supplemental literacy curriculum on the literacy and life skills of elementary students.
A4L Lessons are designed to integrate learning science with the creativity and discipline of the arts to improve student achievement in reading and writing, as well as life skills.
Over a three-year period, researchers assessed the impact of A4L Lessons using a cluster-randomized trial in the Beaverton School District in Oregon. Researchers randomly assigned 32 elementary schools to receive the A4L intervention or the status-quo control condition with approximately 5,700 students in grades 3, 4, and 5 in 16 intervention schools receiving the A4L Lessons.
Researchers then compared achievement on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) Reading/Literature test (i.e., the state reading test) for the two groups of students. Researchers also compared achievement on the Comprehensive Cross Unit (CCU) Assessments (i.e., writing tests designed specifically to measure the impact of the A4L Lessons on literacy and life skills) for a subset of six intervention and six control schools.
- There were no statistically significant impacts of the A4L Lessons intervention on students’ achievement on the OAKS Reading/Literature test.
- The differences between the treatment and control students on the OAKS Reading/Literature test were very small after one, two, and three years of program participation.
- Only treatment students in grade 4 consistently scored reliably higher than control students on the CCU Assessment, indicating a positive impact of A4L on student literacy and life skills; the effect sizes indexing the differences ranged from 0.30 to 0.36 across study years.
Although the study did not show A4L improved students’ scores on standardized tests, the curriculum holds promise for improving literacy and life skills as assessed by the CCU Assessments. Further research is needed to determine whether the findings would replicate in other school districts or different learning contexts.
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