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“The AEI program really connects to any learner, it doesn’t matter what kind of learner you are. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, if you’re a visual learner, if you need tactile learning… the arts allow you to connect to the subject.”

- Angela Polite, CAE Teaching Artist



Arts Engage Initiative 

The Arts Engage Initiative (AEI) was a four-year longitudinal research program funded through a United States Department of Education Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant. AEI measured the impact of high quality arts integration - integrating drama and school studies - at the middle school level.

CAE and it’s team of coaches and teaching artists worked with students at four middle schools in Queens, tracking student achievement as they moved through middle school, and comparing them to a control group of their peers. Researchers meticulously tracked test scores as well as portfolios of student work that reflected their progress with drama and drama integration.

Dynamic, cross-disciplinary arts curricula were designed by the AEI team. Units of study were based on national and state standards and helped close achievement, experience, and opportunity gaps in middle school education.

Each partner middle school received:  

  • Year-long theatre-social studies integration residencies for three implementation years 

  • An experienced coach with supervisory experience and expertise in arts education 

  • On-going professional learning for school leaders and the participating staff 

  • Professional learning institutes for participating teachers and teaching artists 

  • Phone or in-person consultations with the Project Principal Investigator about any aspect of the research methods, protections, and policies for all participants 

  • Family engagement events 

  • Student performances and exhibitions


findings and outcomes:

  • Increased performance in ELA, math, and social studies compared to students not enrolled in the program.

  • Social studies and ELA scores for students in the AEI program were generally 20% higher than those not enrolled in the program.

  • School communities flourished through the shared experience of student arts and performances.

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Arts Engage Initiative

CAE’s AEI program generated impressive results which support the hypothesis that quality arts integration contributes to student success.

As Teaching Artist Angela Polite said, “If you do this thing right, it’s like having Hamilton in your classroom.”

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Want to learn more about the Arts Engage Initiative?