Participation in School Music or Other Performing Arts

Publication Date:

Nov 04, 2018

Key facts about participation in school music or other performing arts

• From 1991 to 2010, among students in eighth grade, the proportion involved in school music or other performing arts generally declined but has recently increased from 46 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2016.
• Participation among older students has declined over the past few years, as the percentage of twelfth graders participating fell from 41 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2016.
• In 2016, eighth graders were more likely to participate in school performing arts (49 percent) than tenth or twelfth graders (both at 37 percent).
• Females are much more likely than males to participate in school performing arts activities, though the gender gap decreases slightly with age; in 2016 the gap decreased from 16 percentage points in eighth and tenth grades to 13 percentage points in twelfth grade.

Trends in participation in school music or other performing arts

From 1991 to 2010, the percentage of students in eighth grade participating in school performing arts declined moderately, from 55 to 46 percent. By 2012, the proportion had increased to 51 percent, although it has since fallen to 49 percent in 2016. Among tenth graders, the proportion increased slightly from 1991 to 2004, from 36 to 42 percent, but had returned to 37 percent in 2016. From 1991 to 2010, the percentage of twelfth graders participating in the arts remained generally constant between 39 and 42 percent, but the rate has since declined, going from 41 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2016 (Appendix 1).

Differences by gender

Females are much more likely than males to participate in school performing arts activities. The gender gap decreases slightly with age, from 16 percentage points in eight and tenth grades in 2016, to 13 percentage points in twelfth grade in 2016. This gap has decreased slightly over time for eighth graders, falling from 21 percentage points in 1991 to 16 percentage points in 2016. In the tenth and twelfth grades the gap has fluctuated over time, but long-term trends are fairly stable; the gap in tenth grade was the same in 2016 as in 1991, and the gap in twelfth grade had a net decrease of 3 percentage points over this time (Appendix 1).

Differences by age

Eighth graders are more likely to participate in school performing arts activities than tenth or twelfth graders, with 49 percent participating in 2016, compared with 37 percent of both tenth and twelfth graders (Appendix 1).

Differences by race/Hispanic origin

In eighth grade, non-Hispanic white students are most likely to participate in performing arts, while non-Hispanic black students are most likely to participate in tenth and twelfth grades. Hispanic students have the lowest rates of participation at all three grade levels. In 2016, among eighth graders, 51 percent of non-Hispanic white students, 47 percent of non-Hispanic black students, and 42 percent of Hispanic students participated in performing arts, compared to 37, 43, and 34 percent, respectively, among twelfth graders.

Differences by parental education

Teens whose parents have more education are more likely to participate in school arts activities. For example, in 2016, 44 percent of eighth grade students with no parent who finished high school participated in school music and performing arts, compared with 60 percent of those with a parent who went to graduate school. Among twelfth graders, 34 percent of students without a parent who graduated high school participated in school performing arts, compared with 46 percent of students with a parent who completed graduate school (Appendix 1).

Differences by college plans

Students who say that they “definitely will” or “probably will” graduate from a four-year college are more likely to participate in school performing arts activities than students who report they “definitely won’t” or “probably won’t” graduate from a four-year college. For example, in 2016, 38 percent of tenth graders who said they planned to complete four years of college participated in school music or performing arts, compared with 26 percent of tenth graders who did not plan to complete four years of college. Among eighth graders in 2016, 50 percent of students who planned to complete four years of college participated in school performing arts, compared with 30 percent of students who did not plan to complete four years of college (Appendix 1).

Data and appendices

Data source

Source: Child Trends’ original analysis of data from Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth, 1991-2016.

Raw data source

Monitoring the Future: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/.

Appendices

Appendix 1. Percentage of Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Graders Participating in School Music or Performing Arts: 1991-2016

Background

Definition

Participation in school arts includes all students who reported participating to any extent in music or other performing arts in their school during the current school year.
The question reads as follows: To what extent have you participated in the following school activities during this school year? Music or other performing arts. (Response options were “not at all,” “slight,” “moderate,” “considerable,” and “great.”)

Citation

Child Trends. (2018). Participation in school music or other performing arts. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/performing-arts.