The landscape of arts education in Arizona’s public and charter schools has never been clearer. Through an intuitive interactive online dashboard, Arizonans can venture deep into arts education data, including statewide geographic comparisons; county-, district-, and school-level reporting, and year-over changes in enrollment.

This powerful tool, the Arts Education Data Explorer, was recently updated to include all available school enrollment data up through the 2020-2021 school year.

The Arts Education Data Explorer is hosted one the Arizona Commission on the Arts website at The Explorer was prepared by Quadrant Research on behalf of the Arizona Arts Education Data Project, a partnership comprising the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

“The arts are an important part of daily life for Arizonan students as more than 60% of students participate in arts education courses,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “While we have seen improvement in access to arts education, only 60% of schools meet the state requirement to provide two artistic disciplines. We must continue not only funding this creative outlet for students, but also work to expand access according to state requirements.”

The Data

The Arts Education Data Explorer encompasses three years of data, self-reported by over 2,000 Arizona schools, both traditional and charter, through the Arizona Department of Education’s AzEDS system. The data reflect both access (the presence of a course of instruction in at least one arts discipline) and participation (student enrollment). Additional factors include:

  • school configuration (Elementary, Middle, or High School),
  • school type (traditional public or charter),
  • locale (urban, suburban, rural, etc., based on classification codes devised by National Center for Education Statistics),
  • percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch,
  • race/ethnicity
  • gender
  • English language learner status

According to Elisa Radcliffe, the Arts Commission’s Arts Learning Manager, “This tool provides a picture of where Arizona’s schools currently stand, allowing school leaders, parents and advocates to ensure that every child in Arizona can participate in the arts.”

Executive Summary Report

Alongside the Data Explorer update, the Arizona Arts Education Data Project published an executive report, summarizing key insights from the 2020-2021 school year data. The executive report can be found at

Key Insights: Access to Arts Instruction

Access is the lowest threshold measure for arts education. It is used to determine if a school offers at least one arts discipline with any student enrollment. This only indicates presence of program, not breadth, and is used primarily to determine where schools may be operating without arts instruction.

  • In 2021, 89% of the state’s 1.1 million students had access to one or more arts disciplines in schools. This represents 73% of schools offering at least one art form.
  • Though required by state education code, only 60% of schools provide access to the state required two artistic disciplines.
  • 5% of students did not have access to any arts instruction. This is an improvement over the prior year’s rate of 11.6%.
  • Among students attending charter schools, 20.1% have no access to arts courses. Only 7.9% of students attending traditional schools lack access to any arts courses.

Key Insights: Participation in Arts Instruction

Enrollments indicates the proportion of all students that are enrolled in at least one arts course.

  • In 2021, 60% of all students (nearly 643,000) were enrolled in arts education courses.
  • Schools in mid-sized and large suburbs had the highest average arts participation rate (66%); schools in rural remote locales had the lowest rate (40%).
  • The arts participation rate was highest in schools where the majority of students are of “Other” race/ethnicity (63%) and was lowest in majority-White schools (42%).
  • Arts enrollment is higher in schools where more students are eligible for the free and reduced-price lunch (FRPL) program.

The following chart highlights where participation in arts education is highest and lowest based on specific characteristics:

  Highest Enrollment Rates Lowest Enrollment Rates
School Configuration Mixed Grade Levels (67%) High Schools (37%)
School Type Traditional (61%) Charter (55%)
School Locale Suburbs (66%) Rural (54%)
Arts Discipline Music (43%) Dance (2%)

Arizonans Respond

Among those taking a close look at the picture presented by the report is Patrick McWhorter, CEO of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, a statewide advocacy network that partnered with AZ DOE and the Arts Commission to sponsor the research with funding from Americans for the Arts.

“Every study ever done reports the same data: children do better when the arts are a robust part of their education: they develop more self-confidence; they graduate at higher rates; they perform better in school and in life,” said McWhortor, referring to data such as that reported by Americans for the Arts ( showing that students who took four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who took only one-half year or less.

According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs ( on behalf of Americans for the Arts in 2018, Arizonans feel very strongly about the value of arts education. 92% of Arizonans agree that the arts are part of a well-rounded education while 80% say the arts help students perform better academically.