Music-Based Mentoring and Academic Improvement in High-Poverty Elementary Schools
Keywords:achievement gap, after-school, cognitive development, mentoring, music training
Recent research links disparities in children’s language-related brain function to poverty and its correlates. Such disparities are hypothesized to underlie achievement gaps between students from low-income families and more advantaged peers. Interventions that improve language-related brain function in low-income students exist, but evaluations of their implementation within high-poverty elementary schools do not. This comparison-group study evaluates whether implementation within high-poverty elementary schools of Harmony Project music-based mentoring, previously shown in randomized controlled research to improve language-related brain function and literacy in low-income students, might be associated with academic improvement for participants compared with non-participating peers. Standardized academic achievement scores were evaluated retrospectively for 2nd graders who opted into or out of Harmony Project (HP) at baseline (nHP = 218; nnon-HP = 862) for weekly music-based mentoring over 2 years. Adjusting for baseline scores, HP participation was associated with higher standardized scores for math (+17 points; ß = .06, p = .02) and English language arts (+26 points; ß = .08, p = .002). Importantly, students with the lowest prior achievement scores showed the greatest gains for both math (+33 points; ß =.13, p =.02) and English language arts (+39 points; ß =.14, p =.02). Implementation within high-poverty elementary schools of a program previously found to improve language-related brain function in low-income students was associated with significant academic improvement for participants, particularly those with the lowest prior levels of achievement. Findings support the hypothesis that disparities in children’s language-related brain function linked to poverty and its correlates may underlie achievement gaps.
Benasich, A. A., Choudhury, N. A., Realpe-Bonilla, T., & Roesler C. P. (2014). Plasticity in developing brain: Active auditory exposure impacts prelinguistic acoustic mapping. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(40), 13349-13363.
Bradley, R. H., & Corwyn, R. F. (2002). Socioeconomic status and child development. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 371-399.
Catterall, J. S., Chapleau, R., & Iwanaga, J. (1999). Involvement in the arts and human development: General involvement and intensive involvement in music and theater arts. In E. B. Fiske (Ed.), Champions of change: The impact of the arts on learning (pp. 1-18). The Arts Education Partnership and The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. https://www.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/ChampsReport_0.pdf
Chang, E. F., & Merzenich, M. M. (2003). Environmental noise retards auditory cortical development. Science, 300(5618), 498-502.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. M. A. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds). Handbook of theories of social psychology, (pp. 416-436). Sage Pubs Ltd. http://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n21
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294-309.
Evans, G. W., & Kantrowitz, E. (2002). Socioeconomic status and health: the potential role of environmental risk exposure. Annual Review of Public Health, 23(1), 303-331.
Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., & Weisleder, A. (2013). SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16, 234-248.
Hanushek, E. A., Peterson, P. E., Talpey, L. M., & Woessmann, L. (March 2019). The unwavering SES achievement gap: Trends in U.S. student performance. (NBER Working Paper 25648). National Bureau of Economic Research. https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w25648/w25648.pdf
Harmony Project. (n.d.). About Harmony Project. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from http://www.harmony-project.org/org-overview
Harmony Project. (2020). Give Music. Change Lives. Annual Report 2020. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55e78642e4b0669c5f97d7c7/t/60074c08ebbfc6794386553a/1611090999324/Harmony+Project+-+2020+Annual+Report.pdf
Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Healthy People 2030. (n.d.). Leading health indicators. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/leading-health-indicators
Heckman, J. J., Stixrud, J., Urzua, S. (2006). The effects of cognitive and noncognitive abilities on labor market outcomes and social behavior. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Hoff, E. (2013). Interpreting the early language trajectories of children from low-SES and language minority homes: Implications for closing the achievement gaps. Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 4.
Horowitz, R., & Samuels, S. J. (2017). The achievement gap in reading: Complex causes, persistent issues, possible solutions. Taylor & Francis.
James-Burdumy, S., Dynarski, M., Moore, M., Deke, J., & Mansfield, W. (2005). When schools stay open late: The national evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Johnson, S. B., Riis, J. L., & Noble, K. G. (2016). State of the art review: Poverty and the developing brain. Pediatrics, 137, e20153075.
Kraus, N., Hornickel, J., Strait, D. L., Slater, J., & Thompson, E. (2014). Engagement in community music classes sparks neuroplasticity and language development in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01403
Kraus, N., Slater, J., & Thompson, E. C., Hornickel, J., Strait, D. L., Nicol, T., & White-Schwoch, T. (2014a). Auditory learning through active engagement with sound: Biological impact of community music lessons in at-risk children. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8, 351.
Kraus, N., Slater, J., & Thompson, E. C., Hornickel, J., Strait, D. L., Nicol, T., & White-Schwoch, T. (2014b). Music enrichment programs improve the neural encoding of speech in at-risk children. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(36), 11913-11918.
Kraus, N., & White-Schwoch, T. (2017). Neurobiology of everyday communication: What have we learned from music? The Neuroscientist. 23(3), 287-298.
Lawson, G. M., Hook, C. J., & Farra, M. J. (May 30, 2017). A meta-analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic status and executive function performance among children. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12529
Leijser, L. M., Siddiqi, A., & Miller, S. P. (2018). Imaging evidence of the effect of socio-economic status on brain structure and development. Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, 27, 26-34.
Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53(2), 205-220.
Pianta, R., & Walsh, D. (2014). High-risk children in schools: Constructing sustaining relationships. Taylor & Francis.
Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2017). When the music’s over. Does music skill transfer to children’s and young adolescents’ cognitive and academic skills? A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 20, 55-67.
Skoe, E., Krizman, J., & Kraus, N. (2013). The impoverished brain: Disparities in maternal education affect the neural response to sound. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(44), 17221-17231.
Slater, J., Skoe, E., Strait, D. L., O’Connell, S., Thompson, E., & Kraus, N. (2015). Music training improves speech-in-noise perception: Longitudinal evidence from a community-based music program. Behavioural Brain Research, 291, 244-252.
Slater, J., Strait, D. L., Skoe, E., O’Connell, S., Thompson, E., & Kraus, N. (2014). Longitudinal effects of group music instruction on literacy skills in low-income children. PloS One, 9(11): e113383.
Smarter Balanced. (n.d.). Overview of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://smarterbalanced.org/our-system/
Stone, A., Bikson, T., Moini, J., & McArthur, D. (1998). The arts and prosocial impact study: Program characteristics and prosocial effects. RAND: DRU-1887-LADCA. https://rand.org/pubs/drafts/DRU1887.html
Strait, D. L., Slater, J., O’Connell, S., & Kraus, N. (2015). Music training relates to the development of neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 12, 94-104.
Tallal, P., & Gaab, N. (2006). Dynamic auditory processing, musical experience and language development. Trends in Neurosciences, 29(7), 382-390.
Tierney, A. T., Krizman, J., & Kraus, N. (2015). Music training alters the course of adolescent auditory development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(32), 10062-10067.
White-Schwoch, T., Carr, K. W., Thompson, E. C., Anderson, S., Nicol, T., Bradlow, A. R., Zecker, S. G., & Kraus, N. (2015). Auditory processing in noise: A preschool biomarker for literacy. PloS Biology, 13(7), e1002196. https://doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002196
Zhu, X., Wang, F., Hu, H., Sun, X., Kilgard, M. P., Merzenich, M. M., & Zhou, X. (2014). Environmental acoustic enrichment promotes recovery from developmentally degraded auditory cortical processing. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(16), 5406-5415.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- The Author retains copyright in the Work, where the term “Work” shall include all digital objects that may result in subsequent electronic publication or distribution.
- Upon acceptance of the Work, the author shall grant to the Publisher the right of first publication of the Work.
- The Author shall grant to the Publisher and its agents the nonexclusive perpetual right and license to publish, archive, and make accessible the Work in whole or in part in all forms of media now or hereafter known under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or its equivalent, which, for the avoidance of doubt, allows others to copy, distribute, and transmit the Work under the following conditions:
- Attribution—other users must attribute the Work in the manner specified by the author as indicated on the journal Web site;
- The Author is able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the Work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), as long as there is provided in the document an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post online a prepublication manuscript (but not the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version of the Work) in institutional repositories or on their Websites prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. Any such posting made before acceptance and publication of the Work shall be updated upon publication to include a reference to the Publisher-assigned DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and a link to the online abstract for the final published Work in the Journal.
- Upon Publisher’s request, the Author agrees to furnish promptly to Publisher, at the Author’s own expense, written evidence of the permissions, licenses, and consents for use of third-party material included within the Work, except as determined by Publisher to be covered by the principles of Fair Use.
- The Author represents and warrants that:
- the Work is the Author’s original work;
- the Author has not transferred, and will not transfer, exclusive rights in the Work to any third party;
- the Work is not pending review or under consideration by another publisher;
- the Work has not previously been published;
- the Work contains no misrepresentation or infringement of the Work or property of other authors or third parties; and
- the Work contains no libel, invasion of privacy, or other unlawful matter.
- The Author agrees to indemnify and hold Publisher harmless from Author’s breach of the representations and warranties contained in Paragraph 6 above, as well as any claim or proceeding relating to Publisher’s use and publication of any content contained in the Work, including third-party content.
Revised 7/16/2018. Revision Description: Removed outdated link.