The CMA Foundation Releases Groundbreaking Case Study Looking At State Of The Arts In Tennessee


Study Can Be a Model for Other States, Communities Looking to Expand Access to Music,
Arts Education Through Public-Private Partnerships

Read “Face the Music: A Case Study for Expanding Music and Arts Education in Schools” HERE

The CMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, has released the results of a groundbreaking case study looking at the state of arts and music education in Tennessee school districts. Read “Face the Music: A Case Study for Expanding Music and Arts Education in Schools” HERE.

Face the Music: A Case Study for Expanding Music and Arts Education in Schools” shines a light on how state and local education agencies and decision makers can make better and more insightful investments in programs, as well as share promising practices and recommendations for sustainable programming that reaches all students. This case study serves as a model for how other states and communities can partner with nonprofit organizations and philanthropy to ensure every student can participate in the life changing experience of studying music and arts.

“Music and arts education are playing a key role in helping students catch up after the pandemic, from helping with math and reading proficiency to coping with stress and trauma. The research is clear: arts and music classes are a must-have, not a nice-to-have,” says Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director. “Now is the time for communities — including government at every level, philanthropies, nonprofits and others — to invest in these important programs so that every student can thrive. Together, we can ensure that every student has access to participate in enriching and transformative arts experiences that empower them to reach their full potential.”

Over the last few years, the CMA Foundation has partnered with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (MHOF), utilizing MHOF’s Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services™ to conduct an assessment of the “State of the Arts” in Tennessee, including engaging nearly 1,200 educators from 589 schools in 23 school districts. The key results from the assessment reflect what is shown in other research about arts and music education — the programs are critical to schools because they help improve academic achievement in math and reading, increase student participation and classroom engagement, improve attendance, and enhance social and emotional development. For example:

  • Three in four school districts responding show a significant increase in the percentage of students proficient in reading, with nearly half of students enrolled in music and arts programs demonstrating proficiency, compared to the overall school average of 36%
  • Seven in 10 districts report higher percentages of students excelling in math among those enrolled in music and arts education (46%) compared to the overall school average of 35%
  • Nearly three in four districts report a notable increase in annual attendance rates for students engaged in music and arts education — in schools where music and arts students outpace the schoolwide average, the average attendance boost for music and arts students reaches an impressive 12%

School districts that participated in the “State of the Arts” case study include:

  • Arlington Community Schools
  • Bartlett City Schools
  • Benton County Schools
  • Chester County School District
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
  • Coffee County School District
  • Germantown Municipal School District
  • Giles County School System
  • Greene County Schools
  • Hamilton County Schools
  • Jackson-Madison County School District
  • Knox County Schools
  • Lincoln County Schools
  • Marion County Schools
  • Maury County Public Schools
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Paris Special School District
  • Robertson County Schools
  • Rutherford County Schools
  • Tullahoma City Schools
  • Weakley County Schools
  • Williamson County School
  • Wilson County Schools


The schools that participated in the assessment span the state and include a mix of demographic populations reflective of the state of Tennessee, including 73% White, 16% Black or African American, 9% Hispanic or Latino, and 2% representing other racial identities. Of these, 24% identified as socioeconomic disadvantaged, 13% engaged in special education services, 9% as English language learners, 2% experienced homelessness or foster care, and 1% identified as migrants or refugees. Nearly 1,200 teachers participated in the survey, representing 48% music, 40% visual arts, 8% theatre, 2% media arts and 2% dance in arts and music content areas. Here are the districts:

This case study is part of a number of programs and initiatives undertaken by the CMA Foundation since 2011 to help ensure music educators have the support and resources needed to create a thriving program within their school and community. Other support includes the recently announced Music Teachers of Excellence grant awards, as well as professional development programming for educators, virtual field trips and other digital topic series for students, grants for local and statewide music education organizations, and more.


About the CMA Foundation

Established in 2011 as the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation is committed to improving and sustaining high-quality music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music. Through strategic partnerships, professional development and grant distribution, the CMA Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), invests various resources across the national public school system, after school programs, summer camps and community outreach organizations.

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