As an example of state efforts to introduce the nation’s youngest learners to the arts, nearly every state in the nation has adopted early childhood or pre-kindergarten content or performance standards for arts education.

This is just one example of a new review released by the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a policy center within the Education Commission of the States. State of the States 2016: Arts education state policy summary offers a comprehensive look at state policies for arts education identified in statute or administrative code for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some of the trends from this year’s report include:

  • 42 states require arts instruction at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
  • 25 states and the District of Columbia require students to complete arts coursework in order to graduate from high school.
  • Since 2012, 33 states have updated or adopted new early learning standards that include standards for learning in the arts.
  • Since 2012, 14 states have updated or adopted new elementary and/or secondary performance or content standards for the arts.

“We believe informed policymakers create better education policy and the Arts Education State Policy Summary allows leaders to examine the arts education landscape across the nation,” said Education Commission of the States President Jeremy Anderson. “Using Artscan, a database project from AEP, arts education leaders can explore data in multiple ways, including a state-level profile for all policy areas and state policy comparison.”

AEP is dedicated to securing a high-quality arts education for every young person in America. Complete results from this review are available in an online searchable database at

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Director Amy Skinner at or (303) 299.3609.

Tweet this ECS report!

  • New @aep_arts review looks at #artsed policy across the U.S.
  • Report from @aep_arts says 42 states require arts instruction in elementary, middle and high school: #artsed
  • Did u know? 25 states & D.C. require students to compete arts coursework to graduate from HS. More from @aep_arts

Related ECS resources that you’ll find useful:

  • ArtScan is a searchable clearinghouse of the latest state policies supporting education in and through the arts from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This new resource from AEP includes not only policy language excerpted directly from each state’s education policies but also information on state-level surveys of arts education and a set of descriptive education indicators.
  • ArtsEdSearch is the nation’s first research and policy database focused entirely on student and educator outcomes associated with in-school and out-of-school arts education and implications for policy based on existing research.

 PUBLISHED: March 2, 2016

 AUTHOR(S): Unspecified



 STATE(S): Nationwide

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