Learning Recovery through Arts Integration

The Alliance Theatre Institute is the branch of our education department that partners with districts and schools through classroom residencies, student workshops, and professional learning events for educators. Through arts integration, STEAM, and theater, we elevate teacher practice and impact students’ academic and social-emotional growth. In the 2019-2020 school year, we served 725 classrooms, 1,144 teachers, and 13,500 students.  

As schools work to address learning recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute is ready to help. Arts integration has been proven time and time again to accelerate and enhance learning. Local education agencies (LEAs) that receive U.S. Department of Education funding through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund can partner with the Alliance Theatre Institute to respond to students’ learning recovery needs. 

We want to provide teachers with the resources they need to support student success, so we’ve rounded up a few facts and research studies to support bringing arts integration into your classroom: 

For Early Learners 

“With the implementation of the strategies modeled and taught by [the teaching artist], my students learned curriculum standards through using [the tools of the actor], their body, voice and imagination. Having achieved both learning and having fun at the same time during virtual learning says wonders about the residency.” — Pre-K Teacher, Georgia Wolf Trap Residency 

Students who participated in a Georgia Wolf Trap residency gained 26 additional days of learning. Additionally, students exhibited significant improvements in vocabulary, written and oral skills, and scored higher on state-wide standardized tests than their peers in the control group. 

Elementary Schools

“[The teaching artist] met with our grade level numerous times to check in with teachers and to brainstorm ideas...She gave specific feedback to my students and supported me in implementing the strategies. At the end of the program, my students were able to successfully complete a tableau with three frozen pictures to display forces and motion. This was a fun and exciting way to incorporate arts into our science standards.” — 2nd Grade Teacher, Drama Partners Residency 

Arts integration strategies are effective in addressing learning recovery needs. In 2018 the National Association of Elementary School Principals reported that “incorporating the arts throughout the curriculum can boost student success.” They cited The Turnaround Arts Initiative which reported a 22.5% average improvement in math proficiency and a 12.6% average improvement in reading proficiency with the highest increases occurring in classrooms that had the most frequent use of arts integration. 

Middle and High Schools

“I can’t tell you how much this [partnership] has meant to my students. This has been an amazing experience for them. [The teaching artist] has been such a great mentor/teacher with them... I’ve caught them ALL randomly humming the song in rehearsals the last couple of days. It made my heart happy. I also admit that I got a little teary eyed today when they sang it together. I haven’t heard them sing since March [2020]… This [partnership] is amazing and giving our hearts the song it needs." — High School Teacher, Musical Theater Composition Residency 

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), in partnership with iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI), initiated the JumpStart Theatre (JST) program in 2015. The three-year, scalable, pilot program was designed to build sustainable musical theatre programs where previously there were none. In 2018, the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) published an Executive Summary that assessed the impact of the program and found notable growth in students’ ownership and agency, creative problem solving, empathy, confidence, collaboration, and sense of community.  The Alliance Theatre became a national JumpStart Theatre program provider in 2019-2020. This program is just one of the many ways our work supports teaching and learning in a secondary setting. 

Field Trips 

The Woodruff Arts Center Multi-Visit Program research study showed that students who participated in multiple arts-based field trips in a single school year had higher test scores, higher course grades, fewer absences, and fewer behavior infractions than their peers, and these benefits continued at least two years following the field trip experiences. 

If you would like to bring an Institute program into your district or school, contact our Institute staff: 

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