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Choosing a life one has reason to value: the role of the arts in fostering capability development in four small urban high schools

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A holistic education linked to creativity, innovation, critical thinking and local/global citizenship is increasingly marginalized in the United States as schools continue to struggle with the impact of high-stakes testing regimes. In particular, urban youths’ access to an education that furthers their ability to choose lives they have reason to value, are circumscribed. Current discussions around the skills and capabilities necessary for youth to graduate and be equipped for meaningful lives beyond high school are aligned with research on the benefits of arts education. This mixed-methods exploratory study uses aspects of Sen and Nussbaum’s capability approach to frame and examine a range of capabilities fostered through student engagement with arts education opportunities, what we refer to as arts pathways, inside of five small arts-focused high schools in New York City, US.
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Keywords: art education; learning; school effectiveness; school reform; secondary education; widening participation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Art and Art History,Adelphi University, Garden City,NY, USA 2: Research and Evaluation,Adelphi University, Garden City,NY, USA 3: Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR),Brown University, Providence,RI, USA 4: New Visions for Public Schools, New York, USA 5: MDRC, New York, USA

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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