Download the Arts Education Plan HERE

Each child has only one chance at a good education, and every single one of our students deserves the best we can provide. By working together we can make sure our students attend the most innovative and creative school district in the nation.

— Mayor Rahm Emanuel

One bright light in the challenging work being done to improve Chicago’s public schools is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the arts, in all its forms, are part of our children’s everyday experience in the classroom.

The case for the arts is clear.  We know that arts education strongly correlates to substantially better student engagement, academic performance, test scores, and college attendance, along with significantly decreased dropout rates and behavioral problems.  And we know that the correlations are strongest for low-income students, whose need is the greatest.

Even more, research consistently shows that the arts are about more than test scores.  There is growing recognition that the arts contribute to essential 21st century skills like innovation, creativity, and critical thinking. Chicago has a rich spectrum of well-developed arts education resources that is probably the best in the nation; and district leadership has embraced innovative ideas to improve schools here.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Department of Arts Education, with the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCASE) and Ingenuity Incorporated (IIC) is pleased to present the Chicago Public Schools’ Arts Education Plan, profiling CPS’ six arts education priorities that form its sweeping new vision and direction for making the arts part of every CPS student’s educational experience from pre-school to graduation and beyond.

The CPS Arts Education Plan systematically improves, expands, and strategically coordinates arts education for all students who attend CPS.


The process to craft the first-ever CPS Arts Education Plan was initiated in early 2012. The goal was to create a policy and programming blueprint for increasing access, equity and the quality of arts educationprovided to CPS students.

Concurrently, under the directive of Mayor Emanuel, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) began the process to create a new Cultural Plan for Chicago.  After more than 30 community-based planning sessions, hosted by DCASE, various stakeholders and residents throughout Chicago’s 50 wards indicated that arts education in our public schools was one of the top three priorities for the City.

With that directive from Chicago’s residents and momentum from the Cultural Plan planning process, CPS dedicated itself to creating a comprehensive Arts Education Plan. The CPS Arts Education Plan was developed through more than 25 community engagement sessions with key stakeholders including principals, teachers, parents, students, arts and cultural organizations and the general public.

The Arts Education Plan abstract was unveiled alongside the Chicago Cultural Plan in November of 2012. By marrying the vision of the Chicago Cultural Plan and goals of the CPS Arts Education Plan, the City of Chicago has created a forceful vision for improving education for all Chicago Public School students.

As the third largest school district in the nation serving over 400,000 students, Chicago will now stand with its sister cities in prioritizing arts education for every student, in every school, with every art form, every day.

Why the Arts?

Research shows that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPAs and SAT scores and show significantly higher mathematics proficiency by grade 12.  These benefits are more pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

There are many more examples and more research that supports similar, positive outcomes for youth involved in the arts. Visit to learn more about the educational outcomes of arts learning in and out of school.

Next: The Opportunity