Arts Impact & Puget Sound Education Service District

Sibyl Barnum , Director
Arts Impact, Puget Sound ESD
3601 20th St. E
Fife, WA 98424




Web Address:
Visit web site

Arts Impact is an intensive, 2-year professional development program for elementary classroom teachers in standards based arts education, arts-infusion, and performance based assessments in visual art, theater and dance. Arts Impact works with school districts to create sustainable models for professional development through Arts Learning Communities of whole school or whole district faculties.

Puget Sound Education Service District

Tacoma Art Museum
Cultural Council of Greater Tacoma

Additional Partners:
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Children's Theatre 
Seattle Repertory Theatre
University of Washington World Series (Dance)

Current School District Partners:
Bethel School District
Enumclaw school District
Riverview School District
Seattle School District
Tacoma School District

Alumni School District Partners:
Clover Park School District
Eatonville School District
Highline School district
Kent School District
Marysville School district
Orting School District
Puyallup School District
South Kitsap School District
University Place School District
White River School District
Eatonville School District; High

Purpose: To “empower classroom teachers to become competent and confident teachers of visual and performing arts.” 

Philosophy: Use of rigorous two-year/92+ hour sequenced professional development for teachers combined with systemic support systems for change in school culture promotes the transfer of arts learning to students. Arts Impact operates with the belief that concept-based arts instruction for teachers and students  linked to criteria-based  performance assessments serves as the catalyst for students to meet state arts standards and access additional pathways to learning. 

Washington State’s Essential Academic Learning Requirements  in the Arts (1994) have provided a change opportunity. By 2009, students will be assessed in art, dance, theater, and music, helping cultivate an interest in student achievement and teacher capacity. Arts Impact helps teachers initiate and improve their arts teaching (Arts Impact, Manthey, interview AnnRené Joseph).

The Arts Impact professional development program demonstrates an innovative school district consortium – cultural community partnership. 

Structures: A two-year teacher professional development cycle (92 hours, accredited) is utilized, and each year the training includes: 
  • 5-day, 30-hour summer institutes at local arts institutions for elementary generalists and art specialists
  • 10-hours of school-based teaching mentorships working with long-term artist mentors
  • Afterschool workshops on requested arts education ideas and teaching strategies 
  • A cultural study trip for each teacher’s class to a museum exhibition or dance or theatre performance
  • Learning Community Work Sessions (2 annually) 
The learning community engages in: 
  • Joint assessment of student works of art 
  • Joint reflection and assessment of teacher instructional practice and process 
  • Scaffolding independent teaching of arts concepts 
  • Linking cultural exemplars and resources to arts concepts
  • Developing site specific strategies and structures to sustain arts teaching
The program’s second year adds: 
  • Further emphasis on arts integration (infused arts concepts) 
  • Examining connections among arts, mathematics, and language arts

Arts Impact uses six key strategies to meet program objectives.
  • In-depth, job embedded, rigorous professional development over time.
  • Training the classroom teacher to deliver standards based arts instruction
  • Concept based arts-infused teaching and learning strategies
  • Assessment of student learning using performance based assessments
  • Strong partnerships with local cultural organizations
  • Arts Learning Communities to develop site specific strategies and systems for sustaining arts teaching

Cultural Council of Greater Tacoma survey found 21% of Pierce County teachers felt qualified to teach arts

Arts Impact pilots teacher training cycles Pilot success prompts Puget Sound ESD- Arts Impact partnership

Puget Sound ESD Arts Impact partnership awarded US Department of Education Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant

Pilots arts-infused summer school model at two elementary schools

Refined arts-infused summer school model and publishes findings of 2002-2005 AEMDD research

Puget Sound ESD Arts Impact awarded a second US Dept. of Education AEMDD grant in partnership with Bethel School District and Tacoma Public Schools

Puget Sound ESD Arts Impact awarded a third AEMDD grant to expand program to middle school in partnership with Tacoma Public Schools.
Puget Sound ESD Arts impact awarded a US Dept. of Education Professional Development for Arts Educators (PDAE) grant in partnership with Seattle Public Schools.
Students will be assessed in arts learning at State level.

The Arts Impact program has been supported since 1999 by a funding mix of local, state and federal government sources including the National Endowment for the Arts and US Dept. of Education grants, private and corporate foundations, school and teacher-based participation fees, and in-kind donations from partnering cultural organizations.

Pocket cost of summer institute: $500 per teacher per year, usually paid by schools and districts; actual cost: $3000 per teacher per year for the institute and mentorship.

The total budget for all professional development in 2008-09 is $1,063,438.

Findings :
The following are findings from the 2002-2005 AEMDD research grant.

Deborah Gonzalez reflection on just-completed two-year findings: Whole school approach may sustain change best. Not only were there changes in teacher practice, but the school culture changed, with an increased value being placed on the arts as core subjects. Assistant superintendent Deborah Gonzalez reflects: “While all teachers showed gains in their development in their abilities to teach and assess the arts, the whole school model showed they had the leadership support from both the school and district level leaders to continue to support the school's efforts.” The test whole school developed and adopted K-5 visual art and dance curricula, made progress on a theater curriculum, and compiled a set of sequential lesson plans.

Evaluation by Lynn Waldorf, arts and learning consultant, University of California Los Angeles PhD (Arts Impact), year one report:

Study goals investigated: 
  • changes in teachers’ art skills, knowledge, and capacity to teach arts 
  • changes in student achievement

Participating teachers working in relationships with artist-mentors improved their understanding and teaching of basic arts concepts in all art forms. Progress included demonstration of: 
  • significant changes in ability to review and critique student work in the arts by end of first year
  • nearly all 85 teachers could independently lead and assess student learning in a concept-based arts lesson 
  • large majority of these teachers’ students demonstrated basic proficiency in taught concepts (Arts Impact)

Interim findings from the 2006-2010 will be available on the Arts Impact website in January 2009. 

Lessons Learned:
Whole School: The importance of school and district level support is essential to building this sustainability. As in any approach, changes in leadership and threats to basic school funding make measuring which program works and which does not problematic, being that they are all so contextual. The whole school model did not suffer from changes in building leadership or a loss of district commitment, where some of the other schools participating did. The lesson we believe we can take from this is how to create a sustainable model that can remain constant in the face of external pressure to change.

The whole school model also created and adopted a K-5 visual art curriculum and dance curriculum and made great strides towards a theater curriculum, compiling a set of sequential lesson plans (Gonzalez).

Keep in mind the tipping point between enough and too much information: 
  • Teachers and artists asked for simpler language and lesson plan formats.
  • More time for teachers to teach with artist-mentor supporting them. 
  • Simplified evaluation with its quasi-experimental design.
Use tools to focus teaching improvement. Teacher’s Autonomy for the Arts Instruction Protocol (see useful tools) helped move reflective practice discussions by teachers and artist mentors away from gut response to observable behaviors. Assistant superintendent Gonzalez reflects it was “helpful for teachers to see all that they did do well even when one aspect may have been less than stellar, and (it) also helped them plan at a very basic level so that critical behaviors…may become automatic with time…” (Gonzalez).

Simplify teachers’ written requirements. Over time, Arts Impact reduced the number of lesson plans required from teachers.

More practice time. Likewise, in response to teachers’ needs, more time was added so teachers could practice the ideas in the institute with coaching from mentors before writing their own lesson plans.

Linking to larger opportunities. Arts Impact trains teachers in classroom-based performance assessments (CBPAs). CBPAs are being piloted for use in statewide assessment (see Washington State), so teachers are well prepared to be ready and familiar with these types of arts assessments.

Useful Tools:
Teacher’s Autonomy for Arts Instruction Protocol – for assessing level of educator’s ability to teach core arts concepts; useful for professional development for generalists teaching the arts.

Videos of how it looks: 

Teacher professional development: 
includes scene of joint-scoring of student work. 

Arts-infused classrooms:  
See Also Washington State.

Arts Impact. Welcome to Arts Impact. Web Page. URL: 18
October 2005.

Joseph, AnnRené. Letter to Ellis, Dawn M. 27 July 2005.

Manthey, Tara M. Art Colors All Subjects at This School. WA: Tacoma News, Inc.,  2006.

U.S. Department of Education. 2005 Grant Awards: Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants Program. Web Page. 22 November 2005.

Waldorf, Lynn. Year End Evaluation Report 2003-04. WA: Arts Impact, 2004.

Target Population:

Arts Administrators

Arts Specialists

Classroom Teachers

Education Administrators

Other Educators



Teaching Artists

Arts Discipline:

Interdisciplinary arts and other subjects



Visual Arts

Entry Points:






Education Thread:
Education Reform