December 15, 2014

Arizona Department of Education
Sally Stewart, Public Information Officer

Arizona Commission on the Arts
Steve Wilcox, Communications and Research Director

 Report: Access to Arts Education in Arizona Has Increased but Improvement is Needed

More than 115,000 Arizona students lack access to arts instruction provided by highly qualified arts teachers 

PHOENIX, Ariz. (December 15, 2014) – An update to a 2010 census on access to arts education in Arizona schools reports that while the number of students without access to any arts education has declined, more than 115,000 students still lack access to arts instruction by highly qualified arts teachers.

“Access to quality arts education is of vital importance,” said Robert Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “The arts teach creativity, teamwork, positive social skills, and entrepreneurship; they keep students engaged in their studies and motivate them to stay in school. This report shows that we are making progress, but it also shows us just how much further we have to go.”

The new findings, published through a partnership between the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, update the 2010 report “Engaging Students, Supporting Schools, Accessing Arts Education: Highlights from the Arizona Arts Education Census Project.” They also provide comparison data on how arts education access has changed in Arizona between 2009 and 2013 through an analysis of the arts teacher assignments in the 2012/2013 Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) database.

The HQT database contained 3,190 teachers with one or more assignments in an arts discipline (defined as dance, music, theatre and visual arts), and represented 1844 total schools with 1,048,503 students. The analysis and report were prepared by Quadrant Arts Education Research, on behalf of ADE and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Additional key findings from the 2014 update include:

  • 89 percent  of Arizona’s K-12 students have access to arts education (up from 87 percent  in 2009);
  • The percentage of charter students with  access to music or visual arts grew from 42 percent  to 60 percent;
  • A greater percentage of students have access to both music and visual arts compared to 2009;
  • Students without access to arts education tend to be at the elementary level for district schools and spread across all grade levels for charter schools; and
  • Smaller schools are less likely to offer arts education.

This report is accompanied by a searchable online HQT data set, where parents and students can see what arts programs are available at a school. This data may be accessed at .

“This flexible search engine allows families to consider schools’ arts education programs in order to make a meaningful decision when choosing the right school for their child,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal. “Access to highly qualified instruction in arts education is imperative to ensure every child receives a well-rounded education. It is my hope that one day all Arizona students have access to high quality arts instruction.”

Access the report and summary at