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The Arts Education Data Toolkit

Since late 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts has collaborated with Education Commission of the States to promote more and better information on young people’s access to, and participation in, arts education. Together, we have led the State Data Infrastructure Project for Arts Education, an effort to create tools and technical assistance that help states extract, analyze and report on data about arts education. This toolkit is a central outcome of that effort.

Data about arts education are critical to ensuring that all American students, regardless of where they attend school, have the opportunity to excel in and through the arts. Such data can give decisionmakers, from state policymakers to educators to parents, information they need to answer critical questions: How many students have access to arts instruction? How many receive it? Do students’ gender, race, zip code or family income affect their opportunities in the arts? This toolkit offers step-by-step instructions, worksheets and other tools to help you plan and execute an arts education data initiative in your state.

Download the entire toolkit, or choose any section or tool from the table of contents in the reader:


GETTING STARTED. This part will help you define your goals, identify the data you need, understand your policy environment, gauge your capacity, identify your partners and make the case for your work.


  • Tool A: Finding State and Local Arts Education Organizations
  • Tool B: Worksheet: Project Planning and Self-Assessment
  • Tool C: Key Audiences
  • Tool D: Suggested Arts Data Talking Points
  • Tool E: Tips for Speaking With Leaders About Arts Education Data

MAKING EFFECTIVE DATA REQUESTS. This part will help you determine what data to request, define your questions as specifically as possible and determine how data privacy concerns can affect your request.


  • Tool F: Worksheet: Planning the Questions You Want to Ask of Your State’s Data System
  • Tool G: The Anatomy of a Data Request
  • Tool H: Worksheet: Defining Terms for Data Requests and Analyses

PROCESSING THE DATA. This part describes two paths to analyzing the data you receive. If the agency that provides the data has done most of the analysis for you, this part will help you understand typical spreadsheets, make simple calculations, test the quality of your data and anticipate common challenges. If you seek raw, unanalyzed data, the path will be more difficult, and you will probably need a research partner. This part will help you understand legal and technical requirements of receiving raw data and what help you will need to analyze it.


  • Tool I: Sample Record Layout
  • Tool J: Common Components of a Data-Sharing Agreement
  • Tool K: Common Means of Getting Access to Large Data Files
  • Tool L: Analyzing Data From Multiple Sources

REPORTING THE DATA. This part will help you identify the target audiences for your information, narrow down what you want to report, choose a reporting mechanism, and prepare interactive data websites and visualizations, if appropriate.


USING THE DATA TO PROMOTE BETTER DECISION-MAKING. This part will help you use your data to set measurable goals for improvement, create communications tools specific to your state’s conditions, use data to recruit new champions and allies and troubleshoot along the way.


  • Tool N: Data Questions to Consider
  • Tool O: Goal Setting
  • Tool P: Sample Message Map for State X
  • Tool Q: Sample Copy for a Two-Pager on Arts Education in State X
  • Tool R: Sample Email Blast Copy for State X
  • Tool S: Recommendations for In-Person Meetings in State X
  • Tool T: Sample Social Media Toolkit for State X


  1. From Data to Action: CA Applies Collective Impact Approach to Track Arts Education and Drive Improvement
  2. Getting to 100 Percent: How NJ Used Data-Driven Strategies to Achieve Universal Access to Arts Education
  3. Mapping the Arts: TX Uses Data to Spotlight Disparities and Drive Equal Access to Arts Education


July 31, 2020

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