Health News

Art Makes Kids Smart

The Turnaround Arts program has helped raise academic scores significantly in some of the nation's struggling schools.

After being the victim of many budget cuts in recent years, art is starting to be seen as a vital part of education. A study of Turnaround Arts, a program to improve struggling schools, found many benefits of providing classes in various art forms and incorporating art into the teaching of other subjects.

The program, spearheaded by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, includes visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Between 2011 and 2014, it was tested in eight elementary and middle schools that were among the lowest achievers in their state. It raised math, reading, and other academic scores, improved attendance, and reduced discipline problems, with suspensions dropping by up to 89 percent. Turnaround Arts is now in 49 schools around the country.

Many other studies have found similar benefits. And in high school, the longer students take fine arts classes, the less likely they are to drop out, according to a study for The Center for Fine Arts Education. For more information about Turnaround Arts, visit

Higher SAT Scores

The College Board found that average 2012 SAT scores were significantly higher among those who studied or participated in drama, music, and other fine arts, compared to those who did not. Depending on the art form, SAT scores were higher by:

  • Up to 66 in critical reading (producing or acting in plays scored highest)
  • Up to 43 in math (music performance scored highest)
  • Up to 68 in writing (producing or acting in plays scored highest)

Surprisingly, compared to students who took computer programming, those in music performance scored an average of
9 points higher in math.