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Museums Serving Schools

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This report, peppered with highlights of various museums’ educational offerings, summarizes survey responses from 376 museums concerning their contributions to the education of Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in the U.S. in 2000-01. The survey results show that museums of all types and sizes provide over 18 million instructional hours to through a wide range of learning activities for students in all grades and in all regions of the U.S. Museums are spending more on their K-12 education activities, with a fourfold increase for a typical museum in the last five years, totalling more than $1 billion annually for all museums. The role of museums in education is changing, with more museums being directly involved in the classroom rather than just providing museum visits. In addition, museums are now providing more educational opportunities through electronic means.

Nearly three-quarters of museums (71%) “reported that they coordinate with school curriculum planners”. The survey results also show that “almost 75% of responding museums formally evaluate one or more of their K-12 educational programs, and about half of these museums evaluate all such programs”. Most evaluations focus on the quantity of programs and participants, but some attempt to measure outputs such as enhanced understanding of target subjects, improved academic performance, improved classroom behaviour and greater self-esteem.

The report argues that “museums are true educational partners, helping schools meet curriculum goals and teach every subject” and that museums “can connect students to ideas and experiences in direct, vivid and meaningful ways”.

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