Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services™ Assessment

Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services (MEDSS)™ is a comprehensive, districtwide arts (dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts) education assessment tool and consulting service that utilizes a mixed-methods assessment design to analyze district-provided demographics, program/course offerings, enrollment, and achievement data and information gathered through an arts education teacher survey to identify and address the challenges and barriers creating inequities for student access and participation in quality, sequential, and sustainable music and arts programming at every school. 

District-provided demographic and enrollment data includes information about the types of arts programs offered at each school and specific information about the students enrolled in those programs. Additionally, achievement data—specifically literacy/ELA and math proficiency, and attendance rates—are provided for comparative analysis. Datasets are analyzed by feeder pattern, grade levels, regional/localized communities, student populations, et al. 

A voluntary teacher survey is distributed to every visual and performing arts teacher in the district. Survey responses are compared against and aligned to the provided datasets to identify factors contributing to the quality of arts education programming, like, but not limited to, classroom facilities, supplies, funding, scheduling, teacher professional development, student participation, and administrative support.

This mixed-methods approach produces a report in the form of a descriptive analysis containing findings and recommendations for the district and is intended to be used as an internal evaluation and planning tool that provides district and school leaders with the data to support effective decision-making as to the implementation of new programs; elimination of gaps in K–12 sequential programming; elimination of barriers preventing student access and participation; identification of the quantity and types of resources/funds needed to make informed, targeted investments; curation of community-specific data to support advocacy efforts; demonstration of funding needs; and informing the creation or revision of strategic arts plans and districtwide goals. 

The MEDSS Assessment includes six focus areas with guiding questions:
  1. Access and Equity: Which students, both overall and within specific subgroups (e.g., economically disadvantaged, special education, English language learners, etc.), have access to music and arts education? Which do not?
  2. Participation Rates: How many students, both overall and within specific subgroups (e.g., economically disadvantaged, special education, English language learners, etc.), participate in music and arts education? How many do not?
  3. Program Continuity: Do students in each traditional feeder pattern have access to sequential music and arts education from kindergarten through grade 12, or from their entry point in the system through grade 12?
  4. Impact on Academic Performance: What correlations exist between participation in music and arts education and student achievement metrics, such as literacy/reading and math scores, as well as attendance rates? How do these compare between students enrolled in these programs and the overall student body or those not enrolled in the arts?
  5. Teacher Insights and Program Viability: Based on feedback from teacher surveys, what conditions affect the access to and sustainability of quality music and arts programs?
  6. Resources and Support: What resources and supports are necessary to implement and sustain these programs effectively and consistently across all grade levels?