Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

Allocation of dwindling resources force public administrators to make choices and instrumental music program budgets can be cut or even eliminated by state agencies or school districts. Whether or not this is good policy will be examined by the collection and analysis of school level data. Public school instrumental music programs are expensive to operate and maintain, involve specialized, highly-qualified instructors and require an inventory of instruments to ensure that students with low incomes will be able to participate. Families in high income situations may be able to afford private instrumental music lessons for their students and may be indifferent to public funding of instrumental music programs.

In many instances insufficient funding is allocated for music programs and alternative sources of revenue must be found to support the programs and fundraising activities may provide a solution (Young 1981). Program funding may also be influenced by external pressures. Abril and Gault (2006) studied school music programs in California over a five year period from 1999- 2000 through 2003-2004 and reported a 50% decline in student involvement in music programs and a 26.7% decline in music educators. Abril and Gault speculated that the decline in music participation could be attributed to the current California budget crisis and the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Concern about these cuts presupposes that music programs have value, which like other education programs, must be demonstrated. Music education can be an important developmental tool that could be utilized in student academic achievement and holistic education. Participation in instrumental music programs may have an effect on academic development and standardized test scores. Using school-level data provided by the Kentucky Department of Education, this capstone paper examines evidence about the relationship between student participation in instrumental music programs and ACT score.

The school-level data and estimations presented here, even controlling for other factors, cannot provide causal evidence for or against direct effects of music education on ACT scores. However, given a positive statistical relationship between instrumental music participation and higher scores, school districts may want to weigh this factor when considering the allocation of scarce public funds.