In November 2006, Young Audiences (YA) received a two-year grant of $75,000 from the Sequoia Foundation to support Arts for Learning Residencies with adaptations for English Language Learners (ELLs). YA worked in collaboration with its Florida affiliate, Arts for Learning/Miami, to design, implement, and evaluate the Residencies.
Arts for Learning Residencies are part of a groundbreaking supplemental literacy program designed to address the need to improve students’ reading and writing abilities by integrating learning through the arts with literacy instruction. The program has had measurable success in raising literacy achievement among a diverse population of students in grades 3-8 across the country.
During the grant period, YA designed residencies taught by teaching artists that used strategies to engage and instruct 149 third and fourth-graders in two Miami-Dade public schools. Over half of these students were English Language Learners.
An independent evaluation found that participating students made significant increases on standards-based tests of reading skills and comprehension after having completed the Arts for Learning program. English Language Learners also demonstrated increased effort in using language, as measured by teacher-conducted assessments.
Students, teachers, and school administrators responded positively and enthusiastically to the program, as teachers reported that Arts for Learning helped students develop valuable reading comprehension skills and increased students’ motivation, engagement, participation, and confidence.
Following the positive results of the pilot program, Young Audiences plans to expand the Arts for Learning program to additional schools and locations. In Miami, the program will reach a wide range of students and teachers including English Language Learners with more limited levels of English proficiency.
YA also plans to expand geographically, working with its affiliate in Connecticut to design and implement residencies in several Connecticut schools with a high percentage of students who are English Language Learners.