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Demo of High School Music Students – Article Summary

Today I will be looking at Elpus & Abril’s article on High School music ensemble students.

random violin

Elpus, Kenneth and Carlos R. Abril. “High School Music Ensemble Students in the United States: A Demographic Profile,” Journal of Research in Music Education, 59 (2), 2011: pp. 128 – 145.

The most significant factors within this study were associations between musical participation and:

  1. gender

  2. race/ethnicity

  3. SES

  4. Native Language

  5. Parent’s Ed.

  6. Test Scores

  7. GPA

Students who were most underrepresented included males, ESOL students, low SES, and children of non-college graduate parents.  The most represented students included white students from high SES background and of parents holding advanced degrees.  “Music students are not a representative subset of the population of U.S. high school students,” (128).

Elpus & Abril comment on the inquality of public education and the uneven distribution to access, outcomes, and experiences.  E & A have also looked at Klinedinst who found that SES is the strongest predictor of student retention for MS school instrumental music.  Interesting, isn’t it?

NOTE TO SELF: Check out Lauen & Tyson, 2009 who considers family composition, parental ed., academics, native lanuage, etc. to be “determinants of inequality.”

Also noted was the lack of representation from ELL students (ESOL).  E & A mention that a longer retention within ESOL classes means reduced opportunities for advanced courses and electives.  I have certainly seen this to be true.  I have even seen where the ESOL teachers are protective over these students sometimes, to the point of discouraging them from expanding beyond the traditional ESOL classes. … This could be another interesting study…

NOTE TO SELF AGAIN: Check out 2002 NCES longitudinal study (Ingels et al, 200).

Findings include a suburban participation rate of 51.2% versus a rural rate of 21.3%.  61% of the students were female and 65.7% were white… Surprisingly to me, only 3.8% were Asian…  English speakers comprised 90.4% of students.  32.2% of students were in the highest SES and 17% were in the lowest SES.

So, to recap, the variables measured by this study included:

gender, race/ethnicity, SES, family composition (dual parent vs. single parent), language, urbanicity of school, parent education achievement, Math standardized test score, reading standardized test scores, and final high school GPA.

As I prepare to do my own article on SES and instrument participation, I think I will also need to control for gender and race, SES (I need to find a measurement for SES), family composition, language, and parent achievement.

TOMORROW – I need to look into the variables for measuring SES.  I must go into my meeting with Dr. Wuttke for my next article with a model ready to go…

Okay, so as I think about this article, I’m not surprised by anything at all… If anything, I am surprised that the disparity is not greater.  Perhaps I need to read this a bit closer, but I am curious as to whether or not they controlled for the existence of certain programs.  I know that the research shows that the vast majority of low ses schools will not even offer a strings program.  I also would like to know which programs actually provide instruments for the students within the program.

Interesting stuff… Until tomorrow!

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