CoTA (Collaborations: Teachers + Artists) is a nonprofit, professional development organization with a 24-year history dedicated to building teacher capacity in arts integration. CoTA’s mission is to deepen academic learning in the classroom by engaging teachers in the design, creation, and presentation of arts-integrated projects that align with academic curriculum. CoTA’s practice of involving students in the artistic process cultivates creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and innovation.
CoTA maintains a core belief that integrating the arts into academic subject areas promotes engagement, equitable access to content, and pathways to improved achievement for all students. Since its inception in 1998, CoTA has collaborated with 2,100 teachers and more than 45,000 students at 44 schools from nine districts in California. To date, 85% of all students served in our core programs are students of color while 62% qualify as low income.
CoTA artists work with teachers to develop programs that teach academic subjects through art. CoTA programs have been shown to improve students’ communication skills, nurture varied modes of intelligence, sharpen critical thinking, develop students’ capacity for empathy, encourage imaginative problem solving, and intensify skills of observation. Additionally, CoTA programs foster creativity and teach the value of collaboration.
CoTA employs creative strategies that encourage teachers to produce arts-integrated lessons. Through in-school residencies, professional development workshops, and subject-specific teacher institutes, CoTA partners with teachers to discover the importance of arts in the classroom.
The Beacon Schools longitudinal study was conducted by the Centers for Research on Creativity (CRoC). This report provides quantitative outcomes on student creativity and qualitative descriptions of CoTA’s process. CRoC concluded that the three-year findings are promising for students with sustained, statistically significant growth in demonstrated creativity, creative self-efficacy, and empathy.
Additionally, in the final year, students experienced a very large significant gain in critical thinking. CRoC suggests that the CoTA program builds upon creative skills sequentially, targeting general creativity in the early years, followed by deep critical thinking in the final year of the program, after solidifying general creativity, collaboration, and empathy.
Click here to view the report.