Study shows Dancing Clasrooms has a positive impact on academic achievement

When Mercy Behavioral Health first introduced Dancing Classrooms to fifth graders in Pittsburgh Public Schools two years ago, we had several goals.

We wanted to help students increase respect of self and others, gain greater self-confidence and self-esteem, overcome age-level shyness through ballroom dance, and be more motivated to pursue higher learning.

Based on the success of Dancing Classrooms in other cities, we expected that student performance and behavior would improve during the school year in which the students participated. Hopefully, the program would have a longer lasting impact.

With the help of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Mercy Behavioral Health and the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation Research Unit (PERU), lead by Dr. Janice Pringle,  conducted an analysis of school data.

We compared grades, absenteeism, demographics, and tardiness for fifth graders in Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh with their previous school year (fourth grade). We also looked at similar data for students who were in fifth grade when the Dancing Classrooms students were in the fourth grade. We wanted to find out if participation in the program could be associated with improved school performance and behavior.

Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and controlling for school and other factors, the fifth grade students who participated in Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh had significantly improved grade point averages after three grade quarters of observation.  Grades in social science, science and math improved among students in Dancing Classrooms when compared with the fifth grade students who were not in the program

Data for year two — the 2010-1011 school year — is in the last stages of being processed and will be made available in late August.

Watch for more details on the difference Dancing Classrooms is making.

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