2018 AEP State Policy Symposium

AEP, with generous support from Americans for the Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, held the 2018 AEP State Policy Symposium on March 10 in Washington, D.C. This annual event convened leaders from across the arts and education sectors for a day-long discussion exploring key policy topics impacting the arts in education, and provided attendees with tools and strategies for implementing AEP’s 2020 Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education.




  • Jane R. Best, Director, Arts Education Partnership
  • Jeanette McCune, Director, D.C. School and Community Initiatives, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Narric Rome, Vice President of Government Affairs and Arts Education, Americans for the Arts


In a time when data are increasingly important to support decision-making, student data can equip parents, teachers, school leaders and policymakers with the information to help all students succeed. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) builds on this promise and promotes intentional state policy that supports using meaningful data to take student outcomes to the next level. Learn from national and regional experts how arts in education policymakers and stakeholders can use data to improve access and outcomes.

Moderator: Sunil Iyengar, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts

Participants: Aimee Guidera, President and CEO, Data Quality Campaign; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Education Commission of the States; Brent Hasty, Executive Director, MINDPOP



Access and Agency in the Arts: The Fabric of Empowerment for Our Students
Priority Area #2: Support Effective Educators and School Leaders
Priority Area #4: Build Leadership Capacity and Knowledge

We are preparing our students for a fast-changing world where they will need to navigate and embrace a new sense of cultural competency and curiosity. Join our discussion as we explore how the arts and arts education build civically engaged and empowered students, how to provide the space for creative and innovative learning and how we can embrace and support teachers and teaching artists to make brave changes through the arts.

Presenters: Myran Parker-Brass, Executive Director for the Arts, Boston Public Schools; Traci Slater-Rigaud, Director, National and Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, Mass Cultural Council


Partnerships That Lead to Policy
Priority Area #4: Build Leadership Capacity and Knowledge

Discuss lessons learned from Americans for the Arts’ State Policy Pilot Program and explore new tactics and strategies to build effective coalitions in the arts, education and policy sectors to advance policy.

Presenters: Jeff Poulin, Arts Education Program Manager, Americans for the Arts; Lana Hallmark, Fine Arts Program Advisor, Arkansas Department of Education; Mary Head, Analyst, Michigan Department of Education; Laurie Schell, Founder, Elevate Arts Ed


Resources for Learning: How Opportunity to Learn Standards Support Quality K-12 Arts Education
Priority Area #1: Raise Student Achievement and Success
Priority Area #3: Transform the Teaching and Learning Environment

Learn about the Opportunity to Learn (OTL) Standards created by each of our nation’s arts education service organizations. Designed and developed to support the National Core Arts Standards, the OTL Standards outline the resources necessary to support a quality, standards-based education in the arts. In addition, the OTL Standards play a role in helping arts educators undertake the needs assessments required under ESSA to identify and prioritize programmatic needs in arts education.

Presenters: Mike Blakeslee, Executive Director, National Association for Music Education; Rima Faber, Chair, Dance Task Force of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards; Kathi Levin, Policy and Legislative Liaison, National Art Education Association; Jim Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy, Educational Theatre Association

Understanding the Arts Education Opportunity to Learn Standards Handout



In the submissions of state ESSA plans, education policy leaders had a unique opportunity to build the arts into the framework of a well-rounded education. This session will explore how states incorporated the arts into their ESSA plans, and how we can learn from implementation of these plans moving forward.

Moderator: Jeremy Anderson, President, Education Commission of the States
Participants:  Leon Kuehner, Executive Director, Iowa Alliance for Arts Education; Kaitlin Pennington, Senior Analyst, Policy and Thought Leadership, Bellwether Education Partners; Jonathan VanderBrug, Policy and Research Director, Arts Alliance Illinois

PowerPoint Presentations:


ESSA, the Arts and Measuring School Quality
Priority Area #3: Transform the Teaching and Learning Environment

How do we measure the impact of the arts on school quality and student success? Illinois is wrestling with this key question as it develops an arts indicator for its accountability system under ESSA. Using the Illinois case study as a springboard, workshop participants will discuss the role of the arts in school accountability and explore ways to measure the arts’ impact.

Presenter: Jonathan VanderBrug, Policy and Research Director, Arts Alliance Illinois

PowerPoint Presentation


Accountability Systems and ESSA State Plans
Priority Area #1: Raise Student Achievement and Success

Under ESSA, states have a unique and important opportunity to shape and customize a plan that advances educational opportunities in bold and innovative ways for all students. Join a discussion about the Check State Plans project, which examines states’ responses to the flexibility ESSA offers them and the accountability systems they put forward.

Presenter: Kaitlin Pennington, Senior Analyst, Policy and Thought Leadership, Bellwether Education Partners

PowerPoint Presentation


Tiers of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of ESSA
Priority Area #4: Build Leadership Capacity and Knowledge

Learn more about American Institutes for Research’s new report, examining the results of a review of evidence about arts integration based on new provisions in ESSA that require or encourage states to support the use of evidence-based interventions. Meredith Ludwig will describe the approach, the highlights and findings, and challenges with undertaking the evidence review. Rachel Hare Bork will provide perspective on the findings and plans for a second review. There will be an opportunity to address questions and time for discussion.

Presenters: Rachel Hare Bork, Research and Evaluation Consultant, The Wallace Foundation; Meredith Ludwig, Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research

ReportReview of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act, American Institutes for Research