Compliance With State Arts Education Requirements

Issued Date
February 28, 2014
Education, New York City Department of


To determine whether New York City (NYC) Department of Education (DoE) students completed an Arts education curriculum that complied with State Education Department Regulations.


Arts education-related studies conclude that an Arts education reduces the risk of students dropping out of school and helps them develop their creativity, motivation, communication skills and leadership capability. According to New York State Education Department (SED) Regulations, each high school student must earn at least one unit of Arts education (i.e., visual arts, music, dance, or theater) during their stay to receive a high school diploma. SED Regulation 100 states that qualifying Arts courses must:

  • Be taught by individuals who are certified Arts teachers;
  • Provide 180 minutes per week, or 108 hours of instruction; and
  • Have an SED approved Arts syllabus or a syllabus that aligns with SED's requirements.

We examined the Arts education received by a random sample of 310 New York City students who attended 166 New York City public high schools.

These 310 students were from the cohort of 51,874 students who entered high school in 2007 and graduated with high school diplomas in 2011. These students were the most recently certified cohort at the time of our audit.

Key Findings

  • The Arts education provided to anywhere from 142 to 197 of our sampled students (46 to 64 percent) did not meet one or more of the SED requirements. This high error rate indicates a notable risk that the affected NYC DoE high school students are not obtaining an Arts education that complies with regulations. Therefore, those students may not be obtaining the benefits that research attributes to Arts education.
  • For 87 of the students in our sample, the Arts education that they received was provided by 99 teachers who lacked the required Arts education certification.
  • For 126 students in our sample, documentation supporting the achievement of the required units of Arts education was missing.
  • For Arts courses taken by 90 students in our sample, there were no syllabi available for one or more of the Arts courses taken.
  • The syllabi for Arts education that were available for review were not approved by SED as required, but they did appear to be consistent with SED guidelines.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that NYC high school students receive an Arts education that complies with SED Regulations.
  • Work with high school officials to ensure that they are aware of and maintain documentation to support compliance with SED Regulations.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

New York City Department of Education: Accuracy of Reported Discharge Data (2009-N-9)

Frank Patone​​​​​​​

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Frank Patone
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236