Evaluation of Professional Development in the Use of Arts-Integrated Activities with Mathematics Content: Findings from the Evaluation of the Wolf Trap Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant

A four-year American Institutes of Research (AIR) evaluation of a Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts professional-development program for teachers found that elementary students outperformed their peers in mathematics when taught by teachers using this arts-integration approach. In a randomized controlled trial in 22 elementary schools in a large, suburban school district, AIR examined the implementation of the program and assessed its impact on teacher practice and students’ mathematics knowledge. The report provides hypothesized factors that may have played a role in the results as well as recommendations for up-scaling and future research.

Content Comments 

This study, using a randomized controlled trial, assessed the impact of the Wolf Trap professional development program on both teachers’ use of performing-arts strategies integrated with mathematics content and the mathematics knowledge of students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Drawing on classroom observation data and achievement scores from the Early Math Diagnostic Assessment (EMDA), findings showed that teachers’ lessons from the treatment group were more likely to provide opportunities for arts integration with mathematics as well as impact on student achievement outcomes. The report communicates its accompanying data in an easy-to-read format utilizing a variety of tables and charts.  The conclusion notes several factors that potentially contributed to the positive findings.