This Website explains why arts education is mandated for California schools and how California fails to implement that mandate. They cite the two most well known studies on the effects of dance education on students. However, these students are older than the elementary school students that Moving To Learn serves.
In an experimental research study of high school age students, those who studied dance scored higher than non-dancers on measures of creative thinking, especially in the categories of fluency, originality and abstract thought. <Minton, Sandra, "Assessment of High School Students' Creative Thinking Skills: A Comparison of the Effects of Dance and Non-dance Classes." In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP (2002)>
One study demonstrated that when a group of 60 at-risk adolescents, ages 13 to 17, participated in jazz and hip hop dance classes twice weekly for 10 weeks, they reported significant gains in confidence, tolerance and persistence related to the dance experience. <Ross, Janice, "Art and Community: Creating Knowledge through Service in Dance." In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP (2002)>.
This site has a list of "Dance Experiences" observed by teachers and researchers. The following entry reports on the positive effects that curricular dance education had in mathematics performance:
Linnette Werner of the University of Minnesota sought the effects of integrated dance and math instruction on students' attitudes toward and aptitudes of mathematics. Classroom teachers designed a program in which students worked with a dancer once a week in order to learn math concepts. The teachers predicted that the students who participated in the dance class would be more successful in and receptive to math lessons. Indeed, the students who received the dance training were more positive than those students who did not. Also, the dance students were more completely engaged in learning math and could more readily apply math skills to different subjects and in different contexts. <Werner, L. (2001, October). "Changing student attitudes toward math: using dance to teach math" . The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. >
The following entries deal with the effect of dance education on the quality educational performance in general.
The 1994 National Task Force on Dance Education report states, "Dance involves a way of knowing that is both intellectual and physical, intuitive and rational. When people create, perform or respond to dance, they engage in acts of observation, analysis, reflection, synthesis, inspiration, creation, transformation, interpretation, application and evaluation. An education without dance is an education that denies children and adults crucial tools for responding to the complexities of contemporary life" <Levine, M. (1995). Widening the Circle: Towards A New Vision for Dance Education. Dance/USA.>
Researchers investigated the development of artistic skills in dance and music among students identified as economically disadvantaged and who were from diverse, urban backgrounds. They found that fostering artistic development leads at-risk students to becoming "psychologically healthy" adults. Also, students who developed their artistic skills tended to be more focused and disciplined in school and other areas of their lives. <Oreck, B., Baum, S., and McCartney, H. "Artistic talent development for urban youth: the promise and the challenge". National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut, Storrs.>
The pamphlet, Critical Evidence , available online as a PDF makes the case for, in their own words, "How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement".
We have seen how the North Carolina Public School System has embraced arts education as part of their balanced curriculum. The Wake County NC Public School System Evaluation and Research Department has released the following paper: Brasfield, Jon and Nancy Baenen, "Assessing the Value of the Arts: Looking Beyond Traditional Achievement Measures". They had this to say about dance education (emphasis theirs):
The most consistent finding of studies related to dance is that dance is effective in developing three aspects of creative thinking: fluency, originality, and abstractness.