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Poetry in Education

The Indiana Department of Education Academic Standards for English/Language Arts includes, across grades K-12, the following standards: Reading (word recognition, fluency, and vocabulary development, comprehension, literary response and analysis); writing (process, application of types and characteristics, English language conventions); and listening and speaking (skills, strategies and applications). Poetry education addresses each one of these standards. There are many empirical studies that document the value of arts in education. One of the most compelling is Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, published by the Arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

There have been numerous studies on the value of poetry for children, including one conducted in 2002 by the California Poets in the Schools, which compared 17 classes of students who received poetry education with 3 classes of students who did not. The study findings included:

  • Students experienced increases in vocabulary, critical analysis skills, and reading comprehension;
  • Poetry education was particularly beneficial to students who were "struggling" in school, especially in the areas of reading and writing; and
  • Evidence suggests that poetry education holds promise as a youth development strategy.
  • Post-test poems by students were more likely to express enthusiasm, evoke a sense of emotion in the reader, use vivid description and colorful language, and express a message that was insightful and creative.

Poetry Out Loud

The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest was created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The contest is administered in partnership with State Arts Agencies. In the fall of 2016 the IAC partnered with the Indiana State Library and the library will now take ownership of the Poetry Out Loud program for the State of Indiana. The program encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about our literary heritage.