Turnaround Arts - Minnesota


Strategic use of the arts can be a game-changer in schools facing inequities. Turnaround Arts, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is based on the premise that high-quality, integrated arts education can help transform schools facing some of the toughest educational challenges in the country. Turnaround Arts: Minnesota began working with schools identified for support and improvement in Minnesota in 2014, and is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The Need

The significant achievement and opportunity gaps in our state must be closed. Arts education has been shown to be an important part of well-rounded education and able to give students tools for success. Decades of research show that arts-engaged students perform better than their peers academically. [President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future through Creative Schools, 2011.]

For example, recent studies show that students who participate regularly in the arts:
  • are more self-confident and better able to express ideas
  • have higher attendance and high school graduation rates
  • are more likely to attend a four-year university, graduate and go on to a career
Yet federal data shows that access to arts education is not universal. While affluent public schools often have high rates of arts education, schools in communities facing inequities sometimes have almost none.

The Impact

Turnaround Arts: Minnesota addresses this inequity by partnering with eight schools in Minnesota. These schools represent a diversity of student demographics in urban, suburban and rural settings:
  • Bethune Community School, Minneapolis (since 2014)
  • Cityview Elementary School, Minneapolis (since 2016)
  • Harambee Elementary School, Maplewood, Roseville Public Schools (since 2019)
  • Northport Elementary, Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale Public Schools (since 2014; Alumni School)
  • Northside Elementary, St. James (since 2014)
  • Red Lake Middle School, Red Lake (since 2014)
  • Riverside Central Elementary School, Rochester (since 2016)
  • Stonebridge World Charter School, Minneapolis (since 2016)
Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools have demonstrated increased student learning, increased student and family engagement, and improved school culture and climate. All Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools are using multiple strategies and interventions to improve, including the arts. As of 2016-17, here are some areas they have grown:
  • Suspensions at six of schools decreased 23-80 percent, compared to the year before they joined the program.
  • Behavior referrals at six schools decreased 12-69 percent for the same period.
  • Five schools saw increased proficiency in math scores on the MCAs.
  • Six schools saw increases in reading scores.
  • “Students were 2.5 times more likely to be highly engaged and highly thoughtful in arts-related lessons than non-arts lessons” according to ratings made by external evaluators during observations at Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools.
  • Enrollment in Red Lake increased.

Objectives and Approach

Turnaround Arts: Minnesota helps these schools build learning in and through the arts and infuse the arts throughout the school. This is not a typical arts program. It is unique among arts education programs in that Turnaround Arts schools strategically leverage the arts to address challenges they are already working to change. Through the arts, Turnaround Arts aims to:
  • Increase and deepen student learning and engagement
  • Improve school culture and climate
  • Improve teacher capacity and instruction
  • Increase family involvement.
Each school’s growth in Turnaround Arts is different and tailored to the school community’s unique needs and assets. However all schools share some common work, including:
  • Form an Arts Leadership Team to set the vision and guide implementation.
  • Create a Strategic Arts Plan, which includes goals and pairs school challenges with arts strategies.
  • Provide professional learning and support for teachers to use arts integration as an instructional strategy in every classroom.
  • Identify ways to weave the arts into the fabric of the school and build access to arts education over time.
Turnaround Arts: Minnesota provides a range of support to these schools:
  • Coaching, resources, and implementation support for sustainable, whole school change, including all elements listed above.
  • Direct and embedded professional development for teachers and administrators.
  • Documentation of outcomes and best practices.
Each school benefits from national partnerships with leading arts organizations and corporations such as Crayola, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and Music Theater International (MTI). Triarco and Groth Music are supporters of Minnesota schools. The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is a program partner supporting educator learning and providing learning opportunities for students.