Tuolumne County Profile - Community Indicators Project
Tuolumne County Profile Executive Summary Tuolumne County Profile Introduction Health and Safety Education and the Arts Natural Resources and Recreation Economy and Infrastructure Acknowledgements Conclusion
Education and the Arts - Tuolumne County Profile
Education and the Arts

and the Arts

Why is this important?

Education and the arts are essential to a vibrant community. Strong education and training opportunities support good employment, adequate income, and a safe and healthy environment. The arts help us enjoy life, develop creativity and critical thinking, build civic engagement and strengthen the economy.

What is the measure?

For education, indicators document access to pre-kindergarten, performance in K-12 schools, and growing community college and adult education offerings. The most important education indicator to county residents was the ability of adults to read. However, a valid measure is not available, so adult reading habits were measured instead.

While residents expressed a strong desire to have low high-school dropout rates the measurement of this key indicator was problematic. Reporting is not standard and, therefore, has not been included. Similarly, having enough after-school and extracurricular activities was rated as important, but we found no valid way to measure this. Having adults actively involved with reading to their children or helping them with homework was an important concern of residents. One possible indicator is that 438 parents registered to participate in the library’s early childhood literacy program from 2001-2005.

For the arts, we focus on performing arts as a robust and quantifiable segment with high value to residents. Interest in having a wide variety of visual arts exhibitions is also high, but we did not find a quantifiable way to measure this. The changing number of studios/galleries may indicate that artists struggle to present their work. Public art exhibitions and art in public places has declined following a loss of government funding.

How are we doing?

Overall, education appears to be doing relatively well, with some notable challenges and opportunities for improvement:

  • Most children attend some pre-kindergarten, but a parent seeking licensed child care will have difficulty matching location, schedule, and preference.
  • Students score a little better than nearby counties on standard tests. Forty-percent of 10th graders scored below the 50th percentile. County schools improved on the Academic Performance Index, and 27% achieved the state-set performance target.
  • Few high school seniors (26%) take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the standard college entrance exam, indicating that many are not yet aspiring to higher education.
  • Columbia College and public and private providers offer access to adult education and training programs. Distance learning is compromised by limited access to high speed/ broadband communications, but we can commute to California State University Stanislaus and University of California Merced.
  • The county has below average reading habits for the region, but rapid progress is evident.

The arts appear to be thriving but are financially vulnerable:

  • The county’s largest performing arts organization, Sierra Repertory Theatre, has annual attendance that exceeds the county’s entire population.
  • Despite the fact that the capacity, variety and attendance among local venues are uncommonly high for a rural region, public financial support for local performing arts is extremely limited.
Tuolumne County - Central Sierra Mountains