Celebrating the impact of music in California schools

For more than 30 years, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education for the observance of Music in Our Schools Month, a time of year to raise awareness of music education and the value it adds to student learning.

A growing body of research shows the benefits of music — and other arts — education to overall student achievement in schools. For example, a 2012 study by the College Board found that, of the students who took the SAT that year, students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math and 31 points above average in writing. Studies have also shown that participating in music programs can increase students’ sense of belonging and connection to schools.

California schools have myriad music education programs — below, are some of the exceptional programs that have been recognized by CSBA through the Golden Bell Awards.

Music Immersion Experience program
San Gabriel Unified School District, Roosevelt Elementary School, Los Angeles County

The Music Immersion Experience program provides comprehensive music instruction to every student, every day at Roosevelt Elementary. Students receive standards-aligned instrumental, choral and general music instruction provided by highly qualified specialists who work collaboratively with the general education teachers and under the direction of a coordinator. MIE was implemented in an effort to use music as intervention, serving the high concentration of socioeconomically disadvantaged families at Roosevelt in an effort to close achievement gaps. Since initial implementation of the MIE program, Roosevelt has seen a 75 percent decrease in discipline incidents, a 15-point increase in Smarter Balanced math scores and a 27-point increase in SBAC English Language Arts scores. Using programs such as El Sistema and recent brain research as inspiration, San Gabriel has successfully created an innovative and unique music program within the public school construct that has proven to be beneficial in a measurable way.

Junior High/Middle School Choir Standards Festival
Bakersfield City School District, Kern County

The Bakersfield City School District’s Junior High/Middle School Choir Standards Festival was established in March 2017. The goals of the Standards Festival include providing vocal music teachers with a standards-based assessment of student learning, providing students with feedback on standards attainment via the adjudication format and creating a benchmark for standards attainment. Since implementation, student achievement and attendance rates have increased throughout the district as students sing their way to success.

Arts for All: Let the Music Play
Lowell Joint SD, Rancho Starbuck Intermediate School, Los Angeles County

The Lowell Joint SD Arts for All: Let the Music Play program was established to encourage all students to discover the passion for life within themselves through instrumental music. Practices, events and ongoing performances engage students and help build a “school family” where students feel they belong. The results have been extraordinary, with high grade point averages, 50 percent fewer absences and significantly fewer discipline referrals. The breadth and nature of the program engages students not only in instrumental music but in the school community.

Estrella del Pueblo
Pleasanton USD, Alameda County

This family-serving program centers around students learning Mariachi music and functions as a community center. Families from historically marginalized populations are provided with a safe and supportive environment to learn more about how to be involved in the school district and in the education of their children. Students are provided with high-quality, culturally relevant music instruction along with tutoring, enrichment, nourishment, counseling services and education for parents. This unique program allows families to truly feel connected to Pleasanton Unified and has proven to provide students with the supports needed to achieve academic excellence.