Shawn A. Oban

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Pauline Stonehouse


Because of the emphasis on No Child Left Behind and high stakes testing, school districts and administrators have been limiting or eliminating fine arts courses from an already shrinking curriculum, focusing on the subjects being tested. Students living in poverty are often entering formal schooling behind academically.

The researcher examined longitudinal test data from 2010-2015 from middle school aged students in a large Midwest school district. The researcher focused on test scores from the sixth grade when instrumental music was offered, examined test data from tenth grade, and studied academic growth. All student scores were included, but the independent variables in the study were music participation and poverty status.

Data indicated that participation in an instrumental program produced a higher mean difference with higher academic achievement scores in both math and reading. There was greater growth in the area of math. Poverty FRL, based upon the criteria of students living in poverty, was correlated with lower math scores, but not reading scores. Finally the data indicated no significance when examining both independent variables which included poverty FRL and music participation. The mean differences in instrumental music participation and the increase in test scores applied to all children, indicating no greater benefit to children living in poverty.