Oakland Unified School District (Oakland, CA)

For full report see MILE PI Report


From 2005-2013 the Oakland Unified School District developed, implemented and finally researched the Music Integrated Learning Environment (MILE) Project, offered as a model of support for early literacy intervention strategies to address school improvement through “Music PLUS Music Integration” (M+MI) professional development, curricular units, instructional practices, portfolio practices, and musical literacy skills tests. This project targeted high poverty schools with a high percentage of students at risk for failure in both early literacy and social-emotional development. The cross-sectional design of this project developed a parallel set of literacy-rich, music-integrated instructional program interventions in lower elementary (Grades K-2) and upper elementary (Grades 3-5) curriculum.

Findings from the project indicate that, with the advent of professional development programs aimed at M+MI teaching practices and support from digital portfolio systems for both music and classroom teachers, (a) MILE school student cohorts outperformed their matched control school cohorts in academic achievement and musical literacy skills, (b) low performing MILE school results approached the level of performance of the high performing laboratory schools that had far more experience with MILE, and (c) MILE schools demonstrated a relatively higher “degree of association” between music learning and academic achievement outcomes—especially for African American students. We have seen the school culture of low income families transformed by MILE teaching and learning practices through qualitative analysis of teacher focus group interviews. We have learned that (a) MILE digital portfolios can demonstrate high quality curriculum units that reveal both the nature and impact of MILE on critical thinking, meta-cognition and social development, (b) adapted M+MI lessons and assessment instruments can be employed productively in both music and classrooms, and (c) MILE portfolio conference interview tools in the future can be used to rate teacher and student reflective understanding of M+MI and its impact on teaching and learning in elementary school classrooms.