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PreK-12 Schools

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In the United States, many public, private, and charter PreK-12 schools offer dance education to their students as in-school classes, often part of the arts curriculum while some offer dance classes as part of their physical education program.  In some districts we also see dance offered in the drill or dance team programs that perform for sporting events. 

As of February 2021, academic standards for dance were in place in every state and the District of Columbia, and thirty-five states certify PreK-12 educators in dance. With the assistance of the Education Commission of the States and the Arts Education Partnership, we now have answers to the following questions:  What is the status of academic standards and teacher certification for dance in each state? What are licensure assessment requirements to become a dance educator in states where dance certification exists? Credential, licensure, and certification requirements for PreK-12 education differ from state to state due to lack of standardization in terminology, state legislation and policies, and funding.

Click Here to read the K-12 State Level Standards and Certification Summary and Chart.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2017-2018 school year, there were 130,930 total K-12 institutions in the United States. Public schools accounted for 75% of those institutions.  

  • Elementary schools: 87,498
  • Secondary schools: 26,727
  • Combined schools: 15,804
  • Other: 901

NDEO believes that in-school dance programs are a vital part of the dance education community. They ensure that all students have access to dance education, regardless of their background, ability, and socioeconomic status. Moreover, the inclusion of dance in the PreK-12 curriculum increases exposure to dance that benefits the entire field. Students who discover dance as part of the school curriculum often seek out further instruction at studios and in after-school programs. They may choose to attend college dance programs. They can become lifelong fans of dance, attending dance concerts as audience members, supporting dance in their communities and advocating for the future of dance and dance education.


On March 12,2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Act into law. This legislation includes a substantial round of Elementary and Secondary Education Relief funding (ESSER). This third round of ESSER funding, ESSER III, totals $126,000,000,000 for K-12 education. Learn how ESSER funds can be used to support dance education while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Click Here to Read the ESSER Funding Toolkit for K12 - 2021

Evolution of Dance in U.S. Education

Historically, dance programs have been housed for many years under physical education departments in many educational institutions. In the past 20 years, dance has increasingly moved to fine and performing arts programs. An article written by NDEO Founding Executive Director, Jane Bonbright, in the Journal of Dance Education explains the background of the K-12 dance landscape and distinguishes between dance in physical education and dance in the arts. Click Here to Read the Article, Threats to Dance Education Our Field at Risk.

Benefits of Dance in PreK-12 Education

There are many benefits of dance in PreK-12 education, including:

  • Research indicates that when integrated into the PreK-12 curriculum, dance keeps students engaged in school, enhances learning when integrated into academic subjects, and improves overall school culture. Click Here to Read about the Evidence Report.
  • Dance integrates kinesthetic learning with understanding. Research shows that children primarily learn through physical and sensory experiences. When children are provided with creative movement problems that involve the selection of movement choices, they learn to think in the concrete reality of movement. Thus, learning the art of dance helps young children develop knowledge, skill, and understanding about the world.
  • Dance helps children develop literacy. To the young child, verbal language and movement are entwined. Preverbal movement expression does not cease when a child develops language. The road to literacy involves the translation of movement expression and communication into words. Learning language and learning dance are not separate threads, but are woven together and incorporated into a fabric of communication and understanding.
  • Dance is a natural method for learning and a basic form of cultural expression. Children learn movement patterns as readily as they learn language. Just as all societies create forms of visual representation or organize sounds into music, all cultures organize movement and rhythm into one or more forms of dance. Yet, while our educational systems for early childhood include drawing and singing, they often neglect to include dance. It is essential that education provide our children with the developmental benefits and unique learning opportunities that come from organizing movement into the aesthetic experience of dance.


Dance Studios

Performing Arts Orgs/Community Centers

Evidence Report