Phase I: Whole Schools Project (1991-1998):
- Began in 1991 as a response to “back to basics” school reform
- Characterized by the involvement of every student and teacher in a school
- Called for the integration of the arts into daily classroom instruction and sequential, comprehensive instruction in dance, drama, visual arts, and music by certified arts specialists
- Piloted in six elementary schools throughout the state, including Pierce Street Elementary School in Tupelo
- Grants and technical assistance offered to schools
- Evaluation results
- increased standardized test scores
- increased community involvement and support
- parental involvement tripled at one school
- teacher morale improved overall
- decreased absenteeism among both students and teachers
- decreased discipline referrals
- school environments transformed visually and culturally
- “authentic” assessment increased
- schedules were created that allowed for substantive planning between classroom teachers and arts specialists that resulted in exemplary arts-integrated thematic units
- Evaluation team identified the following components as essential to the success of the model:
- on-going, apposite professional development
- leadership support and training for principals, superintendents, and project directors
- continued internal and external evaluation
- establishment of mentors within key groups
In 1996, Mississippi State University was commissioned by MAC and MAAE to conduct a survey on the status of arts instruction in Mississippi public schools that revealed the poverty of arts instruction in Mississippi schools. Among the findings: one full-time music teacher for every 840 students, including high school band programs; one full-time visual art teacher for every 3,150 students; one full-time drama teacher for every 17,848 students; and one full-time dance teacher for every 31,235 students. Research conducted more recently revealed that, in 1999, the ratios of arts teachers to students remain little changed.
Phase II: Whole Schools Initiative (1998-the present):
- Elementary, middle and high schools now participate
- Elementary/middle models geographically located – Delta, North, Central, South
- Individual programs are driven by a five-year strategic plan
- Two essential components: the use of arts teachers and visiting artists in the areas of dance, drama, music, visual art, creative writing and folk arts to strengthen the place of the arts as a core academic subject in its own right; and the integration of the arts in all academic subjects in order to increase student success in these subjects
- Support available to schools: program director, grant funds, technical assistance (strategic planning, grant writing, etc.), mentoring (field advisors, senior schools), resources, and sequential professional development (summer institutes and retreats)
- Comprehensive project evaluation through a national assessment team
- Specialized training for administrators, Mississippi artists, field advisors, etc.
Upcoming Opportunities for Educators
Save the Date!
The 2017 Whole Schools Initiative will be held June 13th through the 16th at the MS Gulf Coast Community College - Jefferson Davis Campus.
420 Debuys Rd.
Biloxi MS 39531