How a School's Art Program Can Help Students Academically

Carmela Arcidi dancing on stageSince the beginning of this millennium, the percentage of students receiving some sort of arts education has been in steady decline. This is due, at least in part, to a perception that an arts education does not translate into marketable skills, a perception that has been compounded by the increasing importance of standardized testing in K-12 education. Despite the fact that most people agree that studying art in school is an important part of a well-rounded education, its place on curricula nationwide is far more tenuous than it was a generation ago. These trends are especially unfortunate because new research and new rubrics for academic success show that arts education is academically beneficial.

Improved Writing Skills

In a recent study by the Brookings Institute, researchers found that an increase in arts education correlated strongly to a 13 percent increase in standardized writing scores. Art, especially literature and drama, teaches students to organize their thoughts and to be critical of ideas. This ability to comprehend, analyze, and interpret in an original way is a skill that is tested precisely because it is essential to success in both higher education and in business.

Empathy, Self-confidence, and Leadership

Even viewed through the narrow lens of preparing students for career success, an arts education can impart many valuable lessons. Students who learn to express themselves and communicate big, complex ideas in ways that their peers can comprehend are better suited for careers in almost every field. Seeing the impact and import of their own voice helps boost self-confidence and develop the independence of thought that is necessary for leadership.

A Link Between Other Subjects

Another way the arts can help students is by acting as a connector between subjects. Studying the ways that people express themselves, and why some forms resonate more with some people than others, often involves complex webs of social, cultural, and historical signs and signifiers. Performing a play, for example, might require students to understand something about the historical period the play was written in, which may be the same or different from its setting. Likewise, painting requires students to understand the interplay between geometry, color, and space.


At St. Thomas Aquinas High School, we believe in the value of art for art's sake, that an education in the music, stories, and visual history of humanity is a rich and endlessly rewarding endeavor in and of itself. We also believe that an arts education reinforces science, math, and other areas of academic focus. Like athletics, faith, and service, it is an important component of nurturing a well-rounded student to succeed and lead in college and beyond. Learn more about our academic programs and admissions process.