Two ASALA students — one in a green shirt and one in a black hijab — smile and make peace signs at the camera.

US Department of Education Honors A4L and City Schools’ SALA and ASALA Partnership

Study shows measurable impact of ASALA participation

Huge news! Arts for Learning Maryland, in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, has been recognized by the US Department of Education (DOE) for the Summer Arts for Learning Academy (SALA) and After School Arts for Learning Academy (ASALA).The Department of Education named us a Champion of the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Engage Every Student Recognition Program. We’re one of just 13 districts and organizations across the country that were honored “for efforts to expand access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs for students.” Other factors that were considered include rising enrollment, a commitment to serving students from low-income families, and employing evidence-based approaches.

In both SALA, a five-week summer program in Title 1 schools, and ASALA, an after school program, teaching artists partner with classroom teachers to enhance students’ reading and math by encouraging creativity and arts-integrated exploration. This past year, more than 2,600 students participated in SALA and ASALA at 15 sites around Baltimore.

And studies show that this work is having a measurable impact! A recent evaluation by WolfBrown conducted by Arts for Learning shows that students who attended ASALA grew academically at a faster rate than their grade-level peers who did not attend the program. Results illustrate that ASALA students exhibited gains in math testing that were 37% larger than those by students not in ASALA. In reading assessments, students in ASALA showed gains that were 62% larger than their peers’.

This study and the DOE award illustrates the vast power of arts integration—a strategic approach to teaching and learning in which students build and demonstrate understanding in and through the arts.

And City Schools agrees! Said Joan Dabrowski, Chief Academic Officer, “Arts for Learning has proven to be an invaluable partner in our after-school and summer programs. The enthusiasm and engagement we observe in students, spurred by their unique teacher and teaching artist model, are laudable. This honor is well deserved and reflects its commitment and support to the students of Baltimore City. Students and their families are always eager to participate in the programs.”

Learn more about SALA here and ASALA here.