Unlocking Pathways to Learning
Evaluating Literacy and Cultural Connections:
What the results show
Changing Worlds' Literacy and Cultural Connections (LCC) program is unique among arts integration programs for its focus on culture. It has been successfully implemented in a dozen of Chicago's public elementary schools, but until now, the effect of LCC on participants' long-term outcomes was unclear. A three-year longitudinal study by Loyola's Center for Urban Research and Learning found significant positive impact in four areas:
In writing, LCC students outpaced non-participants in every year of the study.
Writing samples of LCC participants far exceeded non-participants, especially in the quality of their ideas and word choice. LCC students demonstrated their ability to explain the process of writing and made note of specific skills they learned, such as forming paragraphs and using adjectives and adverbs. They were also likely to express that writing was a positive, "more fun" experience especially because the content was about them, their family history or cultural identity.
In fine arts, LCC students knew more than non-participants.
Feedback from participating students and teachers alike noted that the program encouraged self-expression and imagination. Assessments of arts vocabulary across all schools showed that participating student scored higher than non-participants. Two years after learning printmaking, students at one school were able to articulate in detail the steps to make prints.
Students in the program understood more about culture and could articulate cultural differences in local and global contexts.
After two years in the program, students said they learned more about their own culture and family history, and learned about the cultural backgrounds of classmates whom they otherwise wouldn't know. Teachers at one school with a diverse student population said LCC helped students develop their own cultural identities. The idea of culture as "a way of life" emerged in Year 3 when LCC students moved beyond personal history and began research on cultures in other countries.
Students who participate in the LCC program demonstrate greater academic outcomes on standardized tests.
At the end of the third year of the program, test scores for students in Changing Worlds' program were greater than control group students, with an average positive difference of 11.5 points across all schools for composite scores. The greatest standardized test score gains were from students at two schools with limited access to arts and culture programs. This data correlates with the findings from our evaluation.
Students involved in the LCC program over time outperform students who are not.
Teachers gain tools for culturally responsive teaching through LCC's integrated curriculum.
Teachers noted that the combination of arts and writing helped students connect their personal experiences to the idea of culture. Students and teachers also talked about how LCC nurtured a learning community where students of varying abilities were able to connect with each other and provide mutual support for learning. Personal assistance from Changing Worlds' LCC literacy specialists helped. Teachers say they learned more about their students.