Prediction of educational system readiness for implementation of arts policy from an arts education conference

Darlean Joyce Morris

Abstract

The present study investigated the system readiness for the implementation of a new arts education policy in the state of Mississippi. The Mississippi Fine Arts Framework, a legislated set of K-12 curriculum guidelines for arts education, requires accredited public elementary and middle schools to provide one Carnegie unit in the arts curriculum for graduation from accredited high schools. The initiative for this policy was a direct result of the National Standards for Arts Education (1994), which was one of the outcomes of the education reform movement that originated in the 1980s. The present study predicted the readiness of the school system for the implementation of the new state policy using views of the system provided by participants at an arts education conference, Drumbeat '96. The decision to use the vehicle of the conference itself as a data source was based on the opportunity to sample the views of people who had substantial interest in and knowledge of arts education. A questionnaire was developed to measure the educational system readiness for implementation of the new arts policy. The readiness criterion was measured by two scales, the need for change in educational resources and courses. The questionnaire also included a set of educator and conference variables as potential predictors of that readiness. The relationships between the 10 predictors and the two criterion variables were assessed by regression analyses. A non-school based origin of subjects' source interest in the arts and their approval of the keynote speaker's direction for diligent improvement of arts education was associated with a tendency to believe the system needed considerable increase in either resources and courses. University participants tended to be less aware of the new arts policy. The implication of these findings mirrors the challenge that arts reform movements have faced in the past, that there is an ambivalence between the intent and practice of education reform for arts education. Limitations and improvements of the present study as well as recommendations for future studies were discussed.