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Children's Theater Classes and 21st Century Skill Development: A Longitudinal Analysis of Skill Growth

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We examined longitudinal effects of theatre participation on K-12 students’ 21st Century Skill (21CS) growth across eight semesters using teacher-reported assessments of students’ (N=460) collaboration, creativity, initiative, and problem-solving. A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was used to impute a latent 21CS score, which was then used in a Cross-Classified Hierarchical Linear Model. Results revealed significant skill growth over semesters enrolled and significant skill decrease with advancement through class levels. In other words, for each semester in the theatre program, 21CS increased, however, moving up class levels diminished this increase. Score variance was qualified by semester, child factors, and teacher factors, indicating that teachers may judge 21CS more stringently in higher levels, or theatre may be affording 21CS habits rather than skill.