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What Wallace’s Top 10 Stories Say about Trends in Education and the Arts

A look back at your favorite reads this year—from supporting students’ well-being during COVID-19 to learning from arts organizations of color
December 7, 2021 4 Min Read

​​December is a great time to look back and reflect on the year’s work, both to get a sense of what we’re learning—and what is resonating with you, dear reader. The more than 40 posts we published in 2021 on The Wallace Blog  explore a variety of hot topics for our audience, such as why principals really matter; why arts organizations of color are often overlooked and underfunded; and why young people need access to high-quality afterschool programs and arts education programs now more than ever. Just to name a few.

Moreover, the stories in our Top 10 List this year (measured by number of page views) give a good sense of the breadth of the ​research and projects currently under way at Wallace. They also highlight some of the people involved and their unique perspectives on the work. We hope you enjoy reading (or revisiting) some of the posts now.

10. Why Are So Many Kids Missing Out on Afterschool? A study released earlier this year by the Afterschool Alliance identifies trends in afterschool program offerings well as overall parent perceptions of afterschool programs. In this post, we interview Jennifer Rinehart, senior VP, strategy & programs, at the Afterschool Alliance, to discuss the implications of the study, which was based on a large survey of families,​ and what they might mean for a post-pandemic world.

9. What Can We Learn from High-Performing Arts Organizations of Color? The fifth conversation in our Reimagining the Future of the Arts series examines what leaders of arts organizations with deep roots in communities of color see as the keys to their success, as well as what they have learned while navigating crises. Read highlights of the conversation between leaders from SMU Data Arts, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Chicago Sinfonietta and Theater Mu in this blog post.

8. Decade-long Effort to Expand Arts Education in Boston Pays Off A longitudinal study released this year found that arts education can positively affect​ student engagement, attendance rates and parent engagement with schools. Read more about the findings and about Boston Public Schools' successful systems approach to arts learning, including insights from a researcher, a district leader and the president and CEO of EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston.

7. How Can Teachers Support Students’ Social and Emotional Learning? Concern about student well-being has been at the forefront of many conversations this year as schools have reopened, so it comes as little surprise that this post made our list. Here, RAND researchers Laura Hamilton and Christopher Doss speak with us about their study, which found that while teachers felt confident in their ability to improve students’ social and emotional skills, they said they needed more supports, tools and professional development in this area, especially these days.

6. $53 Million Initiative Offers Much-Needed Support for Arts Organizations of Color In this post, Wallace’s director of the arts, Bahia Ramos, introduces our new initiative focused on arts organizations of color, which historically “have been underfunded and often overlooked, despite their rich histories, high-quality work and deep roots in their communities.” The effort will involve work with a variety of organizations to explore this paradox and much more.

5. Five Lessons in Problem Solving for School Leaders This post by Rochelle Herring, one of Wallace’s senior program officers in school leadership, gives an inside look at how California’s Long Beach school district transformed its learning and improvement at every level of the system. It also offers lessons that practitioners in other districts can apply to their own context. 

4. American Rescue Plan: Five Things State and District Leaders Need to Know Now EducationCounsel, a mission-based education organization and law firm, analyzed the text of the American Rescue Plan Act, which provides more than $126 billion for K-12 schools and additional funding for early childhood and higher education. In this post, EducationCounsel’s Sean Worley and Scott Palmer examine this historic level of federal  funding for public school education and offer guidance that states and districts might consider when seeking Rescue Plan dollars. 

3. Why Young People Need Access to High-Quality Arts Education Studies confirm that  sustained engagement with the arts—and, especially, with​​ making art—can help young people gain new perspectives, deepen empathy, picture what is possible, collaborate and even fuel civic engagement. In short, all children deserve access to high-quality arts education, writes Wallace’s director of arts, Bahia Ramos, who was initially approached to draft a shorter version of this piece for Time magazine’s Visions of Equity project.

2. Districts That Succeed: What Are They Doing Right? In her new book, Karin Chenoweth, writer-in-residence at The Education Trust,uses new research on district performance as well as in-depth reporting to profile five districts that have successfully broken the correlation between race, poverty and achievement. We spoke with Chenoweth about what she learned from her research and what she hopes readers will take away from the book.

1. Yes, Principals Are That Important It seems that many of our readers found the headline to this blog post worthy of their attention, considering that the item is in the number one spot on our list this year. Here, education experts weigh in on findings from groundbreaking research released earlier in the year on the impact an effective principal can have on both students and schools—and the implications for policy and practice.

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