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Sociological Perspectives

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Social work with youth


Math achievement in U.S. high schools is a consistent predictor of educational attainment. While emphasis on raising math achievement continues, school-level interventions often come at the expense of other subjects. Arts courses are particularly at risk of being cut, especially in schools serving lower socioeconomic status youth. Evidence suggests, however, that arts coursework is beneficial to many educational outcomes. We use data on 20,590 adolescents from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to answer two research questions: (1) Does student accumulation of fine arts courses across different topic areas relate positively to math test scores in high school? (2) Does school SES differentiate this potential association? Results indicate that youth attending higher-SES schools take more art courses and taking music courses is related to higher math test scores. However, this benefit only seems to only apply to more socially advantaged student bodies. Results reveal a site of additional educational advantage for already privileged youth.


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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Sociological Perspectives. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Sociological Perspectives.



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