Child Development and Arts Education:A review of Current Research and Best PracticesPrepared by the College BoardforThe National Coalition for Core Arts StandardsJanuary, 2012
Child Development and Arts Education - Full Report
The College Board
Office of Academic Initiatives
45 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10023
National Coalition for Core Arts Standards
Prepared by:
Amy Charleroy, The College Board, New York
Jo A.G. Frederiksen, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York
Amy Jensen, Ph.D, Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, Utah
Stacey McKenna, Ed.D, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Alison Thomas, Ph.D, 92nd Street Y School of Music, New York, NY

With contributions by: Randall Allsup, Janet R. Barrett, Eugenia Costa-Giomi, Steven M. Demorest, Sheila J. Feay-Shaw, Patricia Flowers,
Brent M. Gault, Joyce Eastlund Gromko, Michael P. Hewitt, Lee Higgins, Beatriz Ilari, Steve Kelly, Mary Kennedy, Janice Killian, Steven Morrison Laura Stambaugh, Sandy Stauffer, Katy Strand, Don Taylor, Peter Webster, Debbie Wolf, Robert Woody

Individuals are encouraged to cite this report and its contents. In doing so, please include the following attribution:
The College Board, Child Development and Arts Education: A Review of Recent Research and Best Practices, New York, NY, January 2012.


In recent years, there has been great interest among educators in the links between arts-based learning and human development. Research initiatives of the past decade have linked arts participation to cognitive growth and academic skills, including the strengthening of long-term memory and reading ability (Gazzaniga et al, 2008), creative thinking skills, and writing fluency (Deasy et al, 2002). Arts participation has additionally been linked to positive social outcomes, including overall engagement in school (Deasy et al, 2002), increased graduation rates (Israel, 2009), and increased community engagement and pro-social activities (Catterall, 2009). In an effort to strengthen research efforts linking arts to overall health and well-being across the lifespan, the National Endowment for the Arts established an interagency task force on the arts and human development in the fall of 2011 (Hanna et al, 2011), ensuring that such research continues to inform and strengthen arts educational practice nationwide.

Although the body of research is growing that links arts participation to ever-widening developmental gains, there appear to be fewer resources available that explain the ways in which the latest research in cognitive, social, and emotional development in children and young adults may inform the instructional practices of arts educators. The following series of literature reviews aims to address the need for this particular type of information: linking current developmental research with recommended best practices for educators of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts students from grades PreK-14.

More specifically, this report is additionally intended as a resource document in the revision of the National Standards for Arts Education, ensuring that these forthcoming goals and benchmarks for learning in the arts will be developmentally appropriate and aligned with current knowledge in the field.