The Oberlin City Schools have been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
It is one of just 476 districts nationwide to receive the award in 2016.
Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs.
To qualify, Oberlin City Schools leaders answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
The award recognizes how Oberlin leads the way in learning opportunities outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which as of December replaces the No Child Left Behind Act.
The latter was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing, while leaving behind subjects such as music.
The ESSA puts more of a focus on music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education.
“Art and music education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems, communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, to strive for excellence,” said Oberlin superintendent David Hall.
The fine arts represent an area the school district recognizes as “off limits,” he wrote in a statement on the NAMM Foundation award. “There is a researched-based correlation between achievement and fine arts. This research is often placed secondary in some school systems. But Oberlin City Schools embraces the research and makes it a priority. We are very fortunate to have the community and Oberlin College behind us to support our fine arts initiatives in our school system.”
Community music programs have been drawing increased attention because of a landmark study by Northwestern University brain scientists, he said.
These researchers found new links between students in community music programs and academic success in subjects such as reading.
Beyond the Northwestern study, other reports indicate that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, such as processing math and learning to cooperate in group settings.