Predictors of instrumental music enrollment : how school policies may influence retention in Title I and non-Title I public schools
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The purpose of this study was to (1) examine the academic and demographic characteristics of 6th-grade instrumental music students attending selected public schools of contrasting socioeconomic backgrounds, (2) examine the retention patterns of students who were required to enroll in 6th-grade instrumental music compared to those who elected to do so, and (3) construct a predictive model of student retention in middle school instrumental music programs. Individual student data (N = 1052) were gathered from beginning instrumental 6th-grade programs at selected schools in a large, urban school district in Texas. Data included students’ 5th and 6th standardized test results, 7th-grade class schedules, and demographic information. Data were analyzed according to the 6th-grade campus the students attended (Title I/non-Title I) and the type of school (elementary school with required music programs or middle school with elective music programs) to identify demographic and academic factors associated with 6th-and 7th-grade music participation. I examined students’ schedules for retention patterns associated with individual school scheduling and academic remedial policies. I used logistic regression to develop predictive models of retention based on the following factors: gender, ethnicity, special education, at-risk, gifted, 5th and 6th-grade standardized test results, 5th-grade campus and pre-AP enrollment. Only the 6th-grade standardized tests, either math or reading, predicted retention in instrumental music in all of the school settings. Ethnicity, at-risk, and 5th-grade standardized tests did not predict retention in any school setting. Each school setting was unique in the factors that predicted instrumental music retention. For example, in the Title I setting, giftedness and 6th-grade reading test results predicted retention whereas in the non-Title I setting, gender, pre-AP enrollment and 6th-grade math results predicted retention. I also observed that 6th-grade required music programs were, by default, more inclusive than elective programs, and that the diversity in the student population of the 6th-grade required programs was maintained during the 7th-grade when music became elective. Results from this study suggest that offering only one elective choice per year may exclude access to music education for low academic achievers and reduce enrollment in music ensembles.