Everyday Arts for Special Education

Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE) is a professional development program designed to improve student achievement in the areas of communication, socialization, academic learning and arts proficiency through arts-integration strategies. Through a series of training workshops and extensive in-school co-teaching support, participating teachers strengthen their skills and knowledge on fostering social emotional learning skills, developing game-based and engaging curriculum, differentiation, and culturally responsive and inclusive practices. EASE serves students with a diverse range of moderate to severe disabilities and IEPs. Since its inception in 2010, EASE serves over 50,000 students, 1,700 educators and partners closely with underserved schools in New York City and Los Angeles. EASE has also provided specialized training and support to education professionals through summer institutes, webinars, and school-based residencies.

Scope of Work

The EASE methodology was first made possible through a partnership with District 75 (the largest special education district in the US, housed in NYC) and a  Professional Development for Arts Educators grant from the US Department of Education (2008-2011) in support of EASE’s pilot incarnation for students with autism: Communication and Socialization Through the Arts (“CASTA”) . Following this funding cycle, the curriculum expanded to serve the needs of students with a broader range of disabilities and was renamed Everyday Arts for Special Education.

The US Department of Education recognized the significant impact of the program in NYC’s District 75 schools and awarded EASE a $4.6 million dollar Investing in Innovation (i3) Award matched with a $500,000 contribution from National Philanthropic Trust from 2010 through 2015. During this time frame, EASE received several contracts through the John F. Kennedy Center’s Very Special Arts division to provide professional development and school-based coaching sessions throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2012 through 2015. Following the culmination of the i3 iteration, EASE continues to provide programming to NYC’s District 75 and the LAUSD from 2015 through 2019, made possible by another PDAE grant with a focus on incorporating technology for both student and teacher learning.

Impact and Evaluation Results

Presently, EASE has two open evaluations in progress for the i3 and PDAE iterations of the program.

i3 Results (District 75 only, 2010-15)

Preliminary results from our i3 Final Report (2o10-15) indicate the following significant outcomes for teachers and students:

Student Outcomes

• Students who received EASE performed significantly higher on the NY State Alternate Assessment Reading test compared to their peers who did not receive EASE.

• 84% of students mastered communication goals indicated in their IEP

• 80% of students mastered socialization goals indicated in their IEP

• 75% of students demonstrated increased motivation, attention span, self-confidence and positive risk-taking,
and general interest in their school programs

• 75% of students made significant improvements in their arts proficiency

• 75% of students improved their selected academic goals indicated on their IEP

Teacher Outcomes

• 87% of teachers demonstrated strong implementation of arts integrated instruction for targeted student academic goals

• 85% of teachers demonstrated the ability to serve as mentors to their peers by sharing techniques and skills acquired through the EASE professional development workshops and embedded in-class coaching from a teaching artist by the end of their project term

• 78% of teachers demonstrated strong implementation of  arts-based strategies to address student communication and socialization challenges 

The final year preliminary results, as they relate to research, knowledge and practice, continue to indicate that integrated multi-disciplinary arts activities have a significant positive impact on all school performance areas for students with severe disabilities. Final evaluation results are anticipated for release in the summer of 2016. This project is evaluated by Dr. Rob Horowitz, Associate Director of the Center for Arts Education Research at Teachers College, Columbia University.

PDAE Results (District 75 and LAUSD, 2015-19)

Preliminary results from our PDAE Year 1 Report (2o15) indicate the following significant outcomes for teachers and students:

Student Outcomes

Students made the following statistically significant behavioral and academic gains throughout their participation in EASE:

• accepts change / transitions to a new activity

• follows simple one to multi step directions

• self-regulates emotions

• maintains focus on materials and task

• participates in the learning activity

• responds to commands

• leads other participants and peers (where possible)

• understand arts concepts and vocabulary

• respects arts materials and uses them safely

• required less prompting from their teachers or paras throughout the year

Teacher Outcomes

• 91% of teachers improved their content knowledge in the arts (music, dance, theater, and visual arts)

• 100% of teachers effectively implemented arts-based strategies and arts-integrated curriculum in their special education and inclusion classes

• 100% of teachers utilized digital technologies to supplement their in-person professional development workshops and in-class coaching

If you would like to read the comprehensive Year 1 Report, click here to download. This project is evaluated by Rebecca Casciano and Jennifer Puma of Glass Frog.

Webinars and Summer Institutes

Beyond the scope of its federal funding recipients, EASE provides professional development and training to education professionals across the country through administrator’s webinars and summer institutes based in Los Angeles and New York City. Attendees learn and receive three years worth of curriculum, methodology, and basic supplies to get started in their classroom. Click here to learn more about our Summer Institutes. For more information, please contact Program Managers Lauren Jobson-Ahmed ([email protected]) and Stefanie Singer ([email protected]).

Interested in EASE programming for your school?

We enjoy hearing from various school districts all over the country regarding their student and district needs. Together, we can prepare the best type of services for your staff and students. For more information, please contact Program Managers Lauren Jobson-Ahmed ([email protected]) and Stefanie Singer ([email protected]).

Resources for Educators and Families

Whether you have previously received EASE training or you are simply interested, click here to access our curriculum and instructional materials for free. Should you have trouble accessing these materials or would like some additional information, please contact Program Managers Lauren Jobson-Ahmed ([email protected]) and Stefanie Singer ([email protected]).


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Student & Educator Profiles