West Virginia high school students who take more than the required amount of arts classes scored better on math and reading portions of the Westest than students who did not, according to a study scheduled for release today.
"Students who earn 2 or more arts credits during high school were about 1.3 to 1.6 times more likely to score at proficient levels for mathematics and reading/language arts," the study states.
Conducted by the Office of Research within the state Department of Education, the study includes information from 14,653 public high school students between 2007 and 2010. Researchers considered any music, visual or performance arts courses for the study.
The study also found students with more arts credits performed better on the ACT PLAN exam, a preparatory test before students take the actual ACT.
Researchers couldn't say why the correlation exists. State education officials, however, are confident the arts are linked with better academic performance.
"The WVDE believes that a broad curriculum that is arts-rich (as well as having foreign language, movement, etc.), does lead directly to higher student achievement, as indicated by measures such as the Westest2," Superintendent Jorea Marple said in an emailed statement.
The department is releasing the study as Marple visits several arts programs across the state. She is scheduled to be at an art class at Magnolia High School in New Martinsville today. More stops in Wetzel, Marshall and Ohio counties are scheduled for the week.
The study focuses on high school students, but officials believe the same results would be found at any age.