Academic Outcomes Associated with Enrollment in Middle School Music Among Low-Income, Ethnically Diverse Students



Alegrado, Alenamie N

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This study examined the effect of middle school music enrollment on 8th grade academic outcomes within a large-scale, community-wide, prospective, longitudinal study of predominantly low-income students (N = 38,284). Middle school music enrollment was measured in three ways - ever enrolled (Y/N), years of enrollment (0-3), and years enrolled within music students (1-3). Only 20% (n = 8,007) of students enrolled in a music elective (band, chorus, guitar, orchestra, or keyboard). After controlling for significant predictors of music enrollment in middle school (ethnicity, gender, SES, special education status, ELL status, initial school readiness, and 5th grade academic performance), and enrollment in other arts electives (visual arts, dance, and drama), music enrollment in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade was related to greater GPA and standardized test scores, and lower days absent and odds of suspension in 8th grade. Further, greater years of enrollment was related to better academic outcomes, and students with lower 5th grade GPAs benefitted more from additional years of music than students with higher 5th grade GPAs. The effect of enrollment was similarly explored for individual music electives (band (n = 4,801), chorus (n = 1,543), guitar (n = 1,127), orchestra (n = 857), keyboard (n = 630)). Individual music elective analyses revealed differences in academic benefits of enrollment by music type. Band and orchestra were related to the most academic advantages followed by guitar, chorus, and keyboard. Music electives appear to support academic gains especially among at-risk students. Parents and teachers should encourage their students to enroll and persist in music electives throughout middle school. Methods to increase enrollment and support for continued student participation in music electives should be explored



Music elective, Education, Middle school, Music