The Kennedy Center

Research and Evaluation

Our Mission

Although the Research and Evaluation Team (R&E) works with program teams across the Kennedy Center to plan intentional and meaningful evaluations, our primary focus is on the research studies and performance measures for 23 programs education programs named in the 2015-2018 Arts in Education National Program grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. R&E works collaboratively with the Kennedy Center Education program teams who oversee local and national initiatives serving pre-k-12 children and youth in order to provide meaningful data that informs program improvement and increased access to arts education. The grant has a particular emphasis on priority and competitive populations, including students from Title I schools, students with disabilities and English learners. The program studies and evaluation performance measures are organized in Five Objective Areas, each with a set of guiding questions and IRB-approved research studies.

Arts in Education National Program

Research Objectives

The Research and Evaluation Team is committed to contributing to the national discussion and expanding communication among researchers, arts organizations, teaching artists, schools and communities who are engaged in evidence-based practice. As the Kennedy Center's strategic plan states, we are focused on "serving our stakeholders by developing succinct evaluations that encourage honest and transparent reflection. We seek to "foster results-based decision-making and produce/disseminate shareable results to the field."

  • Objective 1: The Effects of Arts on Students in Urban Schools and Communities

    The study for Objective 1 focuses on Washington DC/Kennedy Center (DCPSI) Partner Schools. First we are exploring the impact on students' engagement and creative/higher order thinking as they engage in the KC Artists in Schools Program. In future years, we will study the impact of the KC Partnership on teachers and school leaders in those DC schools. Partnerships include options for the National Symphony Orchestra In-School Ensemble visits and access to theater, dance and music performances at the Kennedy Center. In the third year of the program, we will seek to determine how/whether students' scores in English language arts are affected by the Artists in Schools program.

    Kennedy Center programs involved in this Objective: DCPSI, CETA, NSO In-School Ensembles

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    Quote: How does Artist in Schools program affect my engagement and creative thinking?

  • Objective 2: The Impact of Professional Development Among Kennedy Center Teacher Participants

    The research study for Objective 2 focuses on the professional learning opportunities offered by the Changing Education through the Arts (CETA) program for local DC, Maryland and Virginia classroom teachers. We are interested in understanding more about what teachers learn from workshops and courses offered by Kennedy Center teaching artists related to engaging students, encouraging creative/higher order thinking, and differentiating instruction for students with disabilities and English learners. We are moving into a more intentional study of the documentation of arts integration practice that teachers submit to demonstrate their knowledge of arts integration strategies as well as differentiation for all students. The final focus of this study in 2017-2018 will be the impact on students' work.

    Kennedy Center programs involved in this Objective: DCPSI, CETA

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    Theoretical Framework for Professional Development to Practice

  • Objective 3: Supporting and Engaging Diverse Audiences

    Online and face-to-face engagement of young people, teachers and audiences is the focus of the two studies in Objective 3. We are implementing an innovative polling system for a sample of school visitors at theater, dance and music performances in 2016-2017 with a research-based set of questions that students will access on iPads at the Kennedy Center. We will also be tapping teachers' perceptions of engagement and ask them to send us prompted student work samples to understand more about engagement. Museums, galleries, parks and other informal education settings have helped to inform our initiative here at the Kennedy Center.

    Kennedy Center programs involved in this Objective: Performance, Events and Tours for Young Audiences, Millennium Stage, ArtsEdge

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    Understanding student engagement through P.E.E.R. indicators.

  • Objective 4: Capacity Building in Partnerships and Networks: A Retrospective Cohort Study

    Beginning with a series of nine focus groups, we are designing a retrospective cohort study of our national partnership programs. Although each program is unique, we are interested in the nature of 'impact' of the Kennedy Center as a hub organization in the work done across the country at the community level. We have seen early themes, including the focus on access to arts education for all young people and children and the importance of mapping and monitoring which will inform the study in the next two years and beyond.

    Kennedy Center programs involved in this Objective: Any Given Child, Partners in Education (includes Arts Integration Conference), VSA National Affiliates (includes VSA Intersections Conference/LEAD), New Visions New Voices

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    Quote: What does 'equitable access to high quality arts education' really mean? And how can we measure the impact of Kennedy center partnerships across the country?

  • Objective 5: Grit and Self-Regulation Among Participants in Kennedy Center Career Development Programs

    The Kennedy Center offers an array of programs for the gifted and talented young people who may aspire to careers in the arts. Our research is centered on the potential links between social-emotional learning, specifically grit and self-regulation, and students' career choices and decisions. We are contacting alumni of these career development programs as well as current participants to understand more about what drives these young people and what others can learn from their experiences.

    Kennedy Center programs involved in this Objective: NSO Youth Fellowship, NSO Summer Music Institute, Ballet Class Series, WNO Opera Institute, EBSF, VSA International Young Soloists, VSA Playwright Discovery, VSA Visual Arts

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    Mind Map of Kennedy Center Career Development Programs

Research & Evaluation

tablet with research graphsThe Research and Evaluation team gathers data and conducts KC Education studies in order to improve programs, gather evidence of what works, and inform decisions about local and national arts education offerings.

Dr. Muna Shami


Dr. Don Glass

Research Manager

Dr. Charlie Beekman

Research Analysis Manager

Stephanie McKeel

Assistant Research Manager