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Arts education in the schools has been cut drastically in the last several years. 


     “With the push from NCLB to focus on testing, arts and education are treated

      as if they’re not compatible.  People are forgetting that math is taught when a

      child is playing an instrument. English is taught when a child is reading or wri-

      ting a script. Critical thinking is taught when a child is analyzing art.”

                                            Jamie Myrick, English teacher at Adams Middle School in California


Echo Theatre Company saw a niche we could fill by combining high quality, professional theatre - trained actors and directors and excellent material - with math, science, technology.  Our vision:  to Illuminate, Inspire and Stimulate, is one that works with adult audiences as well as middle and high school students.  There is no "dumbing down" of the material or the message. 


The arts, and specifically theatre, are essential in everyday life.  They "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," (Smith, Edutopia).  Sculptor, Magdalena Abakanovicz said, "Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence."  Theatre is a powerful tool - Edward Albee noted, "Theater holds a mirror up to its audience which says, “This is who you are. You don’t like it, tough. Change.” 


If we are to educate the next generation of young people and expect them to go out and change the world, then that mirror becomes crucial. 


DID YOU KNOW ...


  • Students involved in drama performance coursework or experience outscored non-arts students on the 2005 SAT  by an average of 65 points in the verbal component and 34 points in the math component.
  • Drama activities improve reading comprehension, and both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • Drama helps to improve school attendance and reduce high school dropout rates.
  • A 2005 Harris Poll revealed that 93% of the public believes that arts, including theatre, are vital to a well-rounded education.
  • Drama can improve skills and academic performance in children and youth with learning disabilities.



DRAMA IMPROVES ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE


DRAMA STUDENTS OUTPERFORM NON-ARTS PEERS ON SAT TESTS 


  • Students involved in drama performance scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal component and 35.5 points higher in the math component of the SAT.
  • Students who took courses in drama study or appreciation scored, on average, 55 points higher on verbal and 26 points higher on math than their non-arts classmates.
  • In 2005, students involved in drama performance outscored the national average SAT score by 35 points on the verbal portion and 24 points on the math section. 


ATTENDANCE


Research indicates that involvement in the arts increases student engagement and encourages consistent attendance, and that drop-out rates correlate with student levels of involvement in the arts.

  • - Students considered to be at high risk for dropping out of high school cite drama and other arts classes as their motivations for staying in school.
  • - Students who participate in the arts are 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance than those who do not.


READING COMPREHENSION


From learning to read to the in-depth study of Shakespearean literature, drama can play a significant role in the continual development of students’ reading comprehension skills. Studies indicate that not only do the performance of a story and a number of other drama activities in the classroom contribute to a student’s understanding of the work performed, but these experiences also help them to develop a better understanding of other works and of language and expression in general.  The results below were gleaned from studies where educators and students alike noticed a difference when drama played a part in their classrooms.


  • A series of studies on the arts and education revealed a consistent causal link between performing texts in the classroom and the improvement of a variety of verbal skills, including especially significant increases in story recall and understanding of written material.
  • Performance of Shakespeare texts helps to improve students’ understanding of other complex texts including science and math material.
  • Drama can improve reading skills and comprehension better than other activities, including discussion.

             (from the American Alliance of Theatre and Education Website - See The Effects of Theatre Education article below for more details)





  

Echo and Education

Illuminate | Inspire | Stimulate