The purpose of this study is to evaluate the Austin Classical Guitar Society (ACGS) Educational Outreach Program. The goal of this particular part of the project (concept mapping) is to develop conceptual maps that reflect the unique features of ACGS classical guitar outreach classes and how they impact the lives of participating students. The Austin Classical Guitar Society Educational Outreach Program serves children who are low-income, and provides free instruments and 8 hours per week of free lessons, with a unique curriculum, classroom instruction, and individual support. It is the intention of the educational outreach program to “support the powerful impact that great music instruction can have upon the lives of young people.” This evaluation project will provide valuable information about students’ perspectives on what participation in the classical guitar class has meant in their lives.
AISD will provide data related to academic and behavioral outcomes over a three year period for the students involved in classical guitar, and aggregate information for average students at each grade level on each campus. Information collected will include TAKS test scores, GPA, attendance, credits earned, number of days in ISS (in school suspension), OSS (out of school suspension), and economic disadvantage status (participation in free/reduced lunch program).
Researchers intend to compare student perceptions of program impact with the above-referenced statistical information provided by AISD about actual data related to student performance. Brainstorming statements generated by students participating in the outreach program are hypothesized to result in factors which are known to increase resiliency in youth. A comparative review of outcome measures, provided by AISD, may allow some early conclusions about decreasing risk factors for youth involved in the program.
BENEFIT OF THE PROJECT
AISD, and school districts around the country, are involved in initiatives to increase attendance, decrease truancy, and assist with dropout prevention. Addressing the complex problems in our school district(s) requires a range of strategies to engage students. Research shows that students who score high on resiliency factors are more likely to stay in school and be successful. Creative activities, such as the classical guitar program, are linked to resiliency, specifically if a young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. Information from students and parents, as well as an evaluation of corresponding at-risk factors over three years, will provide valuable information to both the Austin Classical Guitar Society and the Austin Independent School District about perspectives and outcomes for youth. ACGS program is unique not just in being the only one in the country focused exclusively on classical guitar, but also in the free instrument program, individual instruction, and unique curriculum. By participating in research, AISD, UT, and ACGS have the opportunity to gain insight that could lead to improved outcomes for students and others.