PostHeaderIcon Opinion: Pressing State Issue

It is Time to Restore CA Dance and Theater Credentials

by Malissa Feruzzi-Shriver and Amy Shimshon-Santo, Ph.D.

California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is considering a landmark reform in Arts Education policy on June 13. At stake is the reinstatement of credentials in dance and theater that have been dormant in California since 1970. This simple and affordable step, supported by education leaders throughout the state, would be catalytic for teaching core subject matter and improving learning outcomes for California students, especially for the underprivileged.

Research confirms the positive impact of the arts on teaching and learning. A recent study by Dr. Liane Brouilette found that arts education increases literacy and numeracy scores on standardized tests – especially for children struggling to master basic skills. Dr. James Catteral’s research shows that students in the lowest socio-economic strata who participate in arts education gain the greatest benefits in terms of academic achievement and civic engagement.

According to California Basic Education System Data (CBEDS), over half of California’s children in public school qualify for Free and Reduced Lunches (FRL), an indicator of low-income. However, over two thirds of Latino children (78%), and 68% of African American children, are eligible for FRL. A mere 16% of students enrolled in visual and performing arts courses at school are low-income (Blueprint for Creative Schools, CA Dept. of Education, 2013).

The lack of access to arts education for public school students is exacerbated by the lack of clear pathways in higher education for teacher preparation and certification in all the arts.

Dance and Theatre are the only two core academic subjects with approved No Child Left Behind Standards that don’t have corresponding California Single Subject Credentials. California is one of only three states in the nation without them.

Recent comparative research by Senator Gloria Romero’s office found that states with dance and theater credentials reported increases in the following areas: demand for the credentials, quality instruction for students, students pursuing the arts in college and career, demand for dance and theater classes in schools, professional status for dance and theater teachers, and teachers who remain in the profession.

Why doesn’t California provide credentials in all core subject areas of instruction? Clues are found in legislative history. In the 1960’s, many teachers in California were certified to teach Dance and Theatre under the Fisher Act of 1961. In 1970, the state’s credentialing regulations were reformed through the Ryan Act. From that time forward, the CTC only offered credentials in Music and Art but revoked Single Subject Credentials in Dance or Theatre.

According to the California Dance Education Association, without such credentials and adequate teacher prep programs in Dance and Theatre, California school districts “are hard-pressed to recruit, contract and retain” highly-qualified dance and theater teacher, and thus, “sustain robust Dance and Theatre programs and fully implement the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Framework and Standards for all students in all arts disciplines.”

California universities are waiting for the CTC to support the credentials so that they can be approved to offer programs for which there is already a demand. If the CTC approves reinstatement of the Dance and Theater credentials, California can move forward to introduce a bill that adapts legislation to include the missing disciplines. Then teachers will be able get the dance and theater jobs that currently go to teachers who earned their credentials outside the state.

As legacy members of CREATE CA (Core Reforms Engaging Arts to Educate), a statewide consortium that aims to eliminate opportunity gaps for access to a quality education for all students, we applaud the CTC for considering reinstatement of the missing credentials. This important step would restore opportunities for teachers and children in accordance with the recommendations outlined in the Blueprint for Creative Schools.

The CTC should support reinstatement of credentials in Dance and Theater. Restoring the missing credentials in these core academic subject areas will increase access to a quality, creative education for all children, and enhanced leadership, excellence, and longevity among California’s teachers.

PostHeaderIcon Surfing Safari

Photo Courtesy of the Surfing Heritage Foundation

Start waxing up your virtual surfboards and join us as we explore the roots of California surf music within the context of California history on the Surfing Safari web site. The newest extension of Mapping the Beat, a signature ArtsBridge project linking visual and performing arts with the geography and social studies curriculum, has just been released and is ready for teachers to take on a test ride. Before we take off, we should thank the University of California Humanities Research Institute and the National Geographic Education Foundationn for their generous support as well as Liane Brouillette, the principal investigator at the Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences and Technology.

More than any other sport, surfing has inspired a broad culture of music, fashion, language, and life style, and it is the history of the music that has propelled our journey. Primarily targeted for 11th-grade high school teachers and students as they teach and learn about California history and popular culture, the web site also has interest for other educational levels, as well as for surfers and music enthusiasts.

Included on this educational web excursion is an extensive historical essay with a focus on surf culture, written by a California historian, Julie Cohen, and UCSB ethnomusicologist, Tim Cooley. From Captain Cook’s travels to the present, historical information is broken into manageable sections to help users navigate quickly to the time periods and topics that interest them the most. The geography section explores California’s physical character and environment to see how it helped to shape these social and cultural trends.

Two lesson plans are provided as well as a document filled with resources for teachers to refer to, use, adjust, and/or build their own lesson plans. We would be happy to consider adding new lesson plans to this section if teachers would like to share them. (Use the feedback link to reach us). Two Powerpoint presentations are provided, one with audio and video links imbedded and another that could be used as a starting point for building your own presentation. Also, visit our other safari pages with suggested student readings, book and article references, film recommendations, and multimedia links.

We suggest you park your woody in front of the local surf museums in southern California, rich in resources, with staff both knowledgeable and generous of spirit. There are web links to these institutions as well as the archives and libraries we found most useful.

Don’t wait ‘til June, surf’s up right now!

Photo Courtesy of the Surfing Heritage Foundation

PostHeaderIcon San Diego School Board President Attends Celebration of the Arts at Baker Elementary


Richard Barrera (President, San Diego School Board), Carolina Fernandez (Baker kindergarten teacher), Jamey Jarmillo (Baker first grade teacher), Karen Childress-Evans (Director, San Diego Visual and Performing Arts Dept.), Linette Da Rosa (Principal, Baker Elementary School), Denise Lynne (Coordinator, K-2 Teaching Artist Project).

Describing her school’s experience with the K-2 Teaching Artist Project (TAP) in San Diego, Baker Elementary Principal Linette Da Rosa noted that, in contrast with the common situation in which some children in a classroom succeed while others do not, the arts lift everyone. She has reason to know. The first year Baker participated in TAP, the school made its targeted Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). If the school is similarly successful this year, it will not longer be classified as a Program Improvement school under No Child Left Behind. Already Baker Elementary has raised its Academic Performance Index (API) score.

Of course, many factors contribute to school improvement, none more important than the expertise and dedication of the staff. However, Principal Da Rosa admitted to having been taken by surprise by the impact of a well-designed arts integration program. She described her thoughts when she was transferred to Baker Elementary:

“This being a low-performing school that is in Program Improvement, I was worried at first that the arts might detract from core subjects. Now I see the elevated language that the children are exposed to and use. All of this helps their comprehension. Low readers are motivated to read scripts and focus on literacy skills. We see improved CELDT scores, moving from kindergarten to first grade.”

The improved performance of Baker first graders on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) mirrors that of other schools participating in the K-2 Teaching Artist Project, which is funded by an Improving Teacher Quality grant administered by the California Postsecondary Commission. Lesson plans and classroom videos of the TAP lessons can be seen on-line at:

On Friday, June 25, Baker Elementary celebrated completion of another successful year with a dramatization of the story “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” attended by San Diego School Board President Richard Barrera. Children from the classes of second grade teachers Sandi Davison, Bernice Pinson, Amber Burkett and Angelica Irving presented scenes from the story and gave the school board president a story quilt that will be put on display at the Education Center.

The class of first grade teacher Jamey Jaramillo performed original dances based on their study of the movements of marine creatures. Kindergartners in the class of Carolina Fernandez showed their visual art skills by creating colorful butterflies. Art work done earlier in the year enlivened walls all around the school.

Click on the images below to enlarge image and open photo gallery.

Photos by Dr. Liane Brouillette, UC Irvine.

PostHeaderIcon Spring 2010 ITQ Advisory Board Meeting

The San Diego Improving Teacher Quality Project in the Visual and Performing Arts will be wrapping up this year by having both teachers AND administrators from YEAR TWO and YEAR ONE sites come together in one grand workshop to evaluate, discuss and share our journey over the past two years. Those schools that are in year two will be encouraged to share their experiences with the year one folks from Knox, Paradise Hills and Jones Elementary Schools as they finish their year of co-teaching with teaching artists and embark upon the task of teaching the VAPA lessons on their own in 2010-11.

We will also begin preparations for the year two folks to expand on the ITQ arts instruction and strategies next year as they find ways to use it in their own curriculum.

Year TWO folks, please be thinking of the following:

1. What will the arts look like in your classroom, at your grade level, and at your site next year?

2. In what capacity will the arts be taught or used?

3. What kind of support will you need for year three of your work?

As we get closer to the date, Denise Lynne will be sending out more information to prepare participants for this day.

Date and Time: Tuesday, June 8, 4:30-6:30 (workshop rate compensation)

Place: TBA (We’re looking for a venue with plenty of room.)


The UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology

Invites You to Attend the 2010 ArtsBridge America Conference

Free Interdisciplinary Professional Development Workshops in Visual and Performing Arts

Saturday, May 1, 2010, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Grades: 4 – 8

Workshop Curriculum: Mapping the Beat

Arts Disciplines: Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Art

Core Curriculum Links: Social Studies and Geography

Sunday, May 2, 2010, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Grades: K and 1

Workshop Curriculum: Reading In Motion

Arts Disciplines: Music and Theatre

Core Curriculum Links: Language Arts

Please join Orange County K-12 teachers, UCI student teachers, and ArtsBridge America faculty and university students from several universities across the country for FREE interdisciplinary professional development workshops in Visual and Performing Arts at the 2010 ArtsBridge America Conference.  The UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology is hosting a two day conference and professional development workshops on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2, at UC Irvine in the Calit2 Building.

Participate in hands-on workshops with teaching artists and educators, hear lectures by guest educators, and generate ideas to integrate the arts into classroom practice. The workshops will introduce standards-based VAPA lessons that can enhance your language arts, U.S. history, world history, and geography curriculum.

Registration: Register by April 15.  Space is limited, so register early. You are invited to attend the workshops on one-day or two-days, but registration is required.

ArtsBridge America Conference & Professional Development Workshop Schedule

8:30-Noon       Morning Workshops and Meetings

Noon-1:00       Lunch on your own.

1:00-4:30         Afternoon Workshops and Meetings

Location:         UC Irvine, 4100 Calit2 Building, Irvine, CA  92697 (next to the University Club)

For more information email or call (949) 824-5119.

PostHeaderIcon ArtsCore: K-2 Teaching Artist Project Featured on the UC Irvine Homepage

CLICK HERE to read the Arts Education Feature on the UCI homepage about the Teaching Artist Project in K-2 classrooms in San Diego Unified School District.

Putting the arts back into language arts: Drama, dance lessons foster speaking skills of K-2 English learners

By Laura Rico, University Communications

University of California, Irvine

ArtsCore: K-2 Teaching Artist Project

Kindergarten students at Balboa Elementary School use dramatic expression to build oral language skills in an arts-based program developed by San Diego Unified School District and the UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology.

PostHeaderIcon Arts Education Promotes Emotional Intelligence

Arts Education Promotes Emotional Intelligence: As arts education is pushed further to the margins by the current emphasis on standardized testing, a tool for nurturing children’s social and emotional development is being lost.

A recent article by Dr. Liane Brouillette published in the Arts Education Policy Review is one of two papers cited by Miller-McCune in Arts Education Promotes Emotional Intelligence.  Dr. Liane Brouillette is an Associate Professor of Education at UC Irvine and the Director of the UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology.

Central Elementary teacher, Mike Stanley, leads his kindergarten students in a theatre lesson from the “Teaching Artist Project” developed by the San Diego Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, with support from the UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology.


PostHeaderIcon Newcomers Program Helps Elementary Students Develop English Language Skills

Students at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) are working with local elementary teachers to implement the “Reading In Motion” program to help kindergarten students develop their literacy skills by introducing interdisciplinary music activities.

University Park Elementary School in Irvine, California, hosts a Newcomers program that is the recommended program placement for beginning and early intermediate English language learners.  Speaking of the need for early attention to language acquisition skills, Associate Professor Liane Brouillete explains:

In an English immersion classroom, English language learners (ELLs) need exposure to oral English and practice in using oral English to learn the language effectively. One of the most critical pre-reading skills addressed in kindergarten is phonemic awareness. This is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. Yet, in most classrooms, the children spend much more time completing worksheets or listening to the teacher than on the types of interpersonal communication that build skills in oral English.

With the assistance of UCI undergraduates Jessica Haugen, Jackie Wang, and Rebecca Wang, doctoral student Shelly VanAmburg is helping kindergartners in the Newcomers classroom at University Park Elementary in Irvine to get a head start in learning literacy skills through setting them to music. She and her team are introducing the children in the Newcomers class to Reading In Motion, a program that uses music to teach initial sound fluency, phoneme segmentation, and nonsense word decoding. Music encourages the children to engage in developing these skills through rhythm, tempo, and call-and-response lyrics.

Reading In Motion (RIM) was developed by a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to assist at-risk inner city Chicago, Illinois students in high-poverty neighborhood schools. The sequential curriculum was developed from years of experience working with students.  For more information on Reading In Motion, please visit

ArtsBridge America is delighted to be partnering with Reading In Motion to introduce the kindergarten curriculum in classrooms across the country. The multi-campus initiative involves the University of Delaware, Utah State University, Lawrence University of Wisconsin, and the University of California, Irvine.

In Spring 2009, a 7-hour workshop was offered at the ArtsBridge America conference, held at UC Irvine, for university students interested in learning the Reading in Motion teaching methods. The UCI team at University Park finished their first term of implementation in December 2009.

For the 2009-2010 academic year, Jessica Haugen, Jackie Wang, and Rebecca Wang have been appointed Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Fellows and will receive a $500 stipend in support of their research project to be carried out in conjunction with their University Park activities: “Reading In Motion: Using Music and Dance to Teach Phonemic Awareness.” Dr. Brouillette will be serving as their advisor.

Shelly VanAmburg is helping kindergartners in the Newcomers classroom at University Park Elementary in Irvine to get a head start in learning literacy skills through setting them to music.

Shelly VanAmburg is helping kindergartners in the Newcomers classroom at University Park Elementary in Irvine to get a head start in learning literacy skills through setting them to music.

PostHeaderIcon Teaching K-2 Literacy through the Arts

The Teaching Artist Project, a partnership between the San Diego Unified School District and the University of California, Irvine, uses the arts to boost language skills of K-2 students in 14 schools located in San Diego’s least affluent neighborhoods. Instead of asking children to sit quietly at desks, teachers co-teach 27 arts lessons (9 in theater, 9 in dance, 9 visual art) with teaching artists in their own classrooms. While co-teaching with the teaching artists, the teachers learn the content knowledge, key concepts, and skills of the three arts disciplines. As part of the arts lessons, the children are able to hear, see, respond, and demonstrate what they have learned at the same time. This boosts vocabulary and facility in the use of oral language.

In Year 1 of the program, 180 teachers and 3600 students were served. During Year 2, the school year following the weekly visits with teaching artists, teachers continue to teach the academically rigorous, standards-based arts lessons on their own. Teachers continue to get support, as needed, from San Diego arts resource teachers and teaching artists. Enthusiasm is high as teachers who worked with teaching artists last year approach the end of their first term of teaching the arts on their own. To assist teachers in remembering important aspects of the lessons, video versions of the theater lessons have been made available on-line:

The Teaching Artist Program is funded by an $828,000 Improving Teacher Quality grant administered by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. In 2009-10, three more schools joined the program, bringing the number of schools to 15.

Over a million children who are unfamiliar with English attend California schools. English learners make up a quarter of K-12 students, state-wide; in the San Diego Unified School District 30.2 % of students are English learners. If these students are to achieve to their full potential, they will need direct and frequent interaction with individuals who know the language of instruction well and can provide English learners with accurate feedback.

As budget cuts force class sizes higher, (K-2 class size in San Diego could be as high as 30 next year), one-on-one verbal interactions between teachers and individual pupils become more limited. Arts activities that allow for the use of nonverbal communication in combination with verbal interactions can be an effective way for teachers to directly interact with many children at once, providing feedback and building vocabulary.

Please see photos on the following pages. For more information please call:

Denise Lynne, Coordinator
ITQ Teaching Artist Program
Phone: 858-539-5350

Liane Brouillette, Principal Investigator
ITQ Teaching Artist Program
Phone: 949-824-4317


Welcome to the new Learning through the Arts blog!

Please visit our blog again to learn more about current university-school partnerships in K-12 schools, the Teaching Artist Project in San Diego City Schools, professional development for K-12 teachers and teaching artists, conferences and workshops, and ArtsBridge America programs.  Click on the “Teaching Artist Project” and “ArtsBridge America” pages to view our new photo galleries.

CLICK HERE to view a video of the Teaching Artist Project in a San Diego elementary classroom




CLICK HERE to view a video of the Teaching Artist Project in a San Diego elementary classroom