Humanities Indicators
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K-12 Education  >  National Measures of Achievement
 
Responding to Music and Visual Art
(Updated November 2017)

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measures early adolescents’ ability to observe, describe, and evaluate works of music and visual art. (A description of the NAEP arts assessment framework and an overview of the arts assessment, which also measures students’ ability to create art, can be found on the NAEP website.) The 2016 assessment reveals that eighth graders’ demonstrated ability to respond to art and music is limited and unchanged from a previous assessment in 2008.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2016, the average score for all eighth graders on the music responding scale was 147 on a 300 point scale, which was not measurably different from the average score in 2008 (meaning that, although the scores were not identical in the two years, the difference between them was not found to be statistically significant[1]; Figure I-14a).
  • Female students and those with better-educated parents scored measurably higher, on average, than their peers on the 2016 music assessment. (The interactive visualization below allows for an exploration of the differences among student subgroups.)
  • White students and those of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage had average scores on the music assessment that were measurably higher than those of African American and Hispanic students. Hispanic students, in turn, scored measurably higher than African American students.
  • Students who were eligible for the free and reduced-cost lunch program scored measurably lower, on average, than their noneligible peers on the music assessment. Finally, Catholic school students—and all private school students, 40% of whom attended Catholic school—had a higher average score than their public school counterparts. (There were additional subgroup differences, but these were not found to be statistically significant.)
  • Only two student subgroups’ average music responding score changed measurably over time: Hispanic students, who scored somewhat higher on the music assessment in 2016 than in 2008, and male students, who scored slightly lower.
  • Eighth graders’ average score on the visual arts responding scale (149) was similar to their score on the music scale (Figure I-14b). As was true for music, the difference between the 2008 and 2016 average was not statistically significant.
  • For 2016, a student’s demographics, income (as measured by eligibility for the free and reduced-cost lunch program), and parental education, along with school control, were related to performance on the visual arts assessment in much the same way that these factors were related to student performance on the music assessment (see the visualization below for details).
  • The only eighth graders who scored measurably higher in 2016 than in 2008 on the music assessment were those eligible for the free and reduced-cost lunch program. These students’ average score increased by five points.
I-14a: Average Music Responding Scale Score, Eighth Graders, 2008 and 2016

* A reliable estimate was not available for Native American students. The available estimate for English language learners was not generalizable to the entire population of such students and was thus excluded from this indicator.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Arts Assessment. Data analyzed (using the NAEP Data Explorer) and presented by the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

I-14b: Average Visual Arts Responding Scale Score, Eighth Graders, 2008 and 2016

* A reliable estimate was not available for Native American students. The available estimate for English language learners was not generalizable to the entire population of such students and was thus excluded from this indicator.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Arts Assessment. Data analyzed (using the NAEP Data Explorer) and presented by the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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Endnotes

[1] p < .05 (This significance level was used for all the tests performed as part of this analysis.)