Integrating the arts into content-area instruction can grow students’ creativity and agency and has been shown to enhance student engagement and academic performance. In 2023, twelve School District of Philadelphia schools began participating in an arts integration program called makeSPACE for Agency and Readiness. The makeSPACE intervention, designed and delivered by Creative Engagement Lab, is used to train core content area 7th and 8th grade teachers to integrate art and performance into their lessons.
The intended outcomes of the makeSPACE intervention include enhancing 7th and 8th graders’ engagement and agency in order to strengthen their academic performance and facilitate their successful transition to high school. This project directly advances the School District of Philadelphia’s goals of providing enriching and well-rounded school experiences and boosting reading and math outcomes.
RFA is assessing the impact and implementation of makeSPACE through a five-year mixed-methods evaluation. RFA’s impact study will involve a quasi-experimental study of student academic and high school readiness outcomes, while the implementation study is examining implementation fidelity and the contexts in which the intervention takes place. Additionally, the team from RFA will carry out research that helps to build knowledge related to arts integration-focused professional development in middle schools.
This research builds on RFA’s work evaluating an arts-rich school model supported by Children First PA (formerly PCCY) and documenting the benefits of arts-enriched schools for students. The makeSPACE intervention and RFA’s evaluation and research are taking place between 2022 and 2027 with funding from the U.S. Department of Education via an early-phase Education, Innovation, and Research grant awarded to Children First PA.