Arts in Education- Model Development and Dissemination Grant 2005-2008
The first Arts Model grant, awarded to the Alliance Theatre from the federal Department of Education, was on the impact of Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts on students from low socioeconomic backgrounds at risk for academic failure. The grant was awarded to the Alliance Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists to deliver Wolf Trap residencies in 61 pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms in Fulton County over the course of 3 years. Over the grant period the project served approximately 1,220 students, each of whom took part in at least 13 Wolf Trap lessons in their classroom as well as a production at the Alliance Theatre.
Wolf Trap features intensive professional learning experiences for teaching artists, classroom teachers, and administrators, and the arts model grant included a workshop for parents. Georgia State University served as the evaluator, using tools to assess annual changes in children's language development, emotional understanding, academic performance and achievement in drama. The results were used to refine and enhance Georgia Wolf Trap and inform many of the practices employed by Alliance Theatre teaching artists to this day.
The students who received the Wolf Trap intervention were found to have richer use of words and sentences at the end of the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years when compared with students in the control group. In their written stories, students who received Wolf Trap used more words, more sentences and had a more evident grasp on theme, structure and resolution when compared with the control group.
Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant 2008-2012
At the culmination of the 2005-2008 Arts Model grant, there was significant evidence that Georgia Wolf Trap enhanced low-income Kindergarteners' language development and improved their academic achievement immediately and over time. This evidence also indicated that low-income English Language Learner populations benefited greatly from the Georgia Wolf Trap. The Alliance Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists applied for and received a second AEMDD grant that focused on the ELL population.
In the second grant, 24 Kindergarten classrooms in Fulton County received the Wolf Trap intervention. During this grant period the focus shifted to study how long term targeted professional learning for teachers impacts ELL students at risk of academic failure. Over the three-year implementation period, the project served approximately 1,440 kindergarten students in Fulton County with Wolf Trap. Georgia State University served as the evaluator, using tools to assess annual changes in children’s language development, emotional understanding, academic performance and achievement in drama. The evaluation also looked at the progress of teachers who were part of the intervention for all three years when compared to a control group of teachers.
The ELL students who received the Wolf Trap intervention were found to meet or exceed expectations in reading, speaking and listening. At the conclusion of the grant period the research demonstrated that students in classrooms where teachers had been exposed to all three years of the intervention used more sentences, more words and more emotion words in their writing when compared with the control group of students.