Blog Posts for Arts Education Network

From Neolithic to Neo-Core Arts Standards: The Back-story to Writing the New Standards

Since the Neolithic Revolution, apprenticeships were the career pathway towards master artist status. In addition, one had to have a patron to provide access to the resources of their craft. Twelve thousand years later, we have codified the artistic learning experience into a matrix of what students should know and be able to do, through specific benchmarks known as standards.

The first National Standards for Arts Education were issued in 1994. A coalition of national arts and education organizations will issue a twenty-first century update of the standards in early 2014.

Kristy Callaway (Executive Director of the Arts Schools Network and member of arts education council at Americans for the Arts) interviews Jim Palmarini (Director of Educational Policy at Educational Theatre Association and member of the leadership team of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards) about the process of updating the national arts education standards.

Kristy: Please set this up for me. What is the back-story of the writing teams? How were they selected and assembled?

Jim: We have five writing teams working to rewrite the national standards in the content areas of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. In October, 2011, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) leadership issued an online application process. We had more than 360 applicants, most of who were highly qualified and experienced in one or more arts discipline. What we were seeking in each team was a balance of individuals who had expertise in teaching, standards and curriculum writing, assessment, and, of course, practical knowledge in their area of expertise. The leadership of NCCAS selected the team members. The College Board managed the selection of the media arts team.

The full five teams have met twice in person—most recently this past July—but most of their work has been done virtually in webinars, phone conferences, and email discussions. Writing grade-by-grade PreK-12 standards is intellectually challenging and complicated work, especially when you are working to both honor what is unique about each art form and trying to find common ground across the content areas. And nobody is getting paid—this is a voluntary effort by a dedicated cadre of individuals who truly believe in the value of standards for students and educators.

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State Standards Spree!

Posted by Lynn Tuttle, Sep 09, 2013 11 comments

Lynn Tuttle Lynn Tuttle

Read along and test your knowledge of standards, state policy and state level arts education as I take you through some of the oft-heard questions regarding state arts education standards.

  1. What are standards, and why do we have them? Part of the Educational Reform movement of the 1990’s, standards are descriptions of what students should know (knowledge) and be able to do (skills) in a particular content area. The first set of national standards was developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989; the arts standards were the second set of national standards, published in 1994.
  2. So – we have national standards? But your title talks about state standards…I’m confused… National standards are voluntary standards with no accountability or “teeth” in the educational system until they are either adopted or adapted at the state level. They are guidance, whether the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, or the soon to be released updated National Core Arts Standards.
  3. OK. What states have arts standards now?  48 states officially have arts education standards for K-12 at this moment in time. One state, Nebraska, is in the process of writing arts education standards as we speak. Can you guess which state doesn’t have state level standards?[i]
  4. How do states get or create arts standards?  The answer is… it depends. In my state, the State Board of Education, a board appointed by the Governor and including our directly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, approves or adopts standards for our state. In other states, the legislature most vote to adopt standards. Regardless of the state, your SEADAE representative –the person who handles arts education for your state department of education - is the worker bee (or bureaucrat!) who shepherds arts standards through the appropriate process.
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What Next Generation Visual Arts Standards Are Not…

Posted by Dennis Inhulsen, Sep 09, 2013 2 comments

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in the newsletter for the National Art Education Association, and has been reprinted with permission.

Dennis Inhulsen Dennis Inhulsen

Nearly one thousand art educators from all parts have reviewed and provided feedback to our Next Generation Visual Arts Standards. I am pleased to report that reviewers have supported our work as “agree” or “highly agree” with 85% to 92% approval in all categories.  As chair of the team of art educators writing the standards, I am proud and amazed by their perseverance and professionalism demonstrated throughout the process. While still a work in progress, we are on a positive path to support art education for all students and the teachers that serve them.

 

What are Standards?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative define standards as:

Educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.

Source: http://www.corestandards.org

Further, educational standards, are developmentally appropriate, assess with reliable measures, and pay close attention to the gaps of demonstrated learning for all students. Standards in education can be traced to the early 1980’s when a “Nation at Risk” was published prompting legislation by congress through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Standards for Arts Education were first published in 1994 after the standards movement in education was well underway. Since the birth of the standards arts teachers have been increasingly held accountable to them. Our new standards reflect new practices in art education aligned to new challenges teachers face such as demonstrating growth in art for teacher effectiveness ratings and to help teachers with qualities that matter most transferring learning into adulthood. NAEA in partnership with the National Coalition of Core Arts Standards in the local autonomy of teachers and is striving to write standards that can be adapted to a wide variety of teaching and learning conditions. The standards further make the case for more learning in and through the arts.

Through feedback review it was noted that there is a fine line between standards and instruction & curriculum. Indeed, standards in the new Common Core for English Language Arts & Math oftentimes have a tone suggesting “how” to teach not “what” to teach. Like our standards, they are a hybrid of sorts providing enough detail for teachers to assimilate for unit planning.

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How do you say “Arts Education” in Spanish?

Posted by Alex Sarian, Aug 23, 2013 1 comment

Alex Sarian Alex Sarian

If you take a minute to reach out and feel the pulse of the arts education landscape around the country, I’m willing to bet you’ll hear the phrase “Community Engagement” a lot more than you’d expect: cultural institutions in every state provide education programs that engage the community through the arts; schools across the nation fight for arts programs that engage their students both in and out of the school day – and don’t expect to receive any money from the philanthropic sector unless “community engagement” is at the center of your argument.  And it should be.  In the arts (and even more in the world of arts education) we are in the business of engaging audiences (and students), so we need to constantly be in-tune with what makes them tick.

But do we often stop to talk about demographics?  No.  So let’s…

One of the highlights of my year (so far) was listening to Manuel Pastor discuss the demographic shift in communities around the US and how they will inherently affect those of us who claim to work to serve community needs.  In my opinion, some of the most important facts to come out of his research are:

-          In the last decade, the number of Latinos in the US has grown by 43%, whereas the number of African Americans has grown by 12%, and the number of Non-Hispanic Whites by 1%.

-          Statistics show that in 2010, the number of Non-Hispanic Whites dying was greater than the number being born.

-          Studies indicate that the “net migration” from Mexico is “0” – almost at a standstill.  Which indicates that the growth of the Latino community is a result, in large part, of family planning: the average Mexican family is 3-5 times larger than the average American family.

Pastor’s findings indicate that the largest demographic shift in the US today is affecting the youth population: there are currently 4.3 million less Non-Hispanic White people under the age of 18 than there were 10 years ago; and there are 4.7 million more Latinos under the age of 18 than there were 10 years ago.  By the year 2020, the majority of people under the age of 18 will be people of color.

So what are we doing as a field to engage the ‘new’ American community?

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Six Reasons That the Arts Are the Ideal Vehicle to Teach 21st Century Success Skills

Posted by Lisa Phillips, Aug 21, 2013 21 comments

There are many things I don’t know about life and how the world works, but there are two things I know for certain. The first is that young people are less prepared for the working world than they were 20 years ago. The second is that there is something we can do about it! Don’t get me wrong, young people today are energetic, caring about the environment and passionate about social justice. However, when it comes to the skills they need to conquer the competitive nature of the working world, there is some work to be done. Success skills such as effective communication, accountability, finding solutions to challenges, and adaptability are just some of the areas that the current generation is lacking. So where can they learn them? In those “nice to have, but not need to have” programs that our school boards seem to be cutting like they were last year’s fashions…THE ARTS! If parents, educators and policy makers would just LOOK and see what I see, they would recognize an untapped opportunity to catapult 21st century students toward achieving their goals in life. I would like to offer 6 reasons why the arts offer excellent opportunities to develop these vital success skills.

1.     The Arts Don’t Focus on Right & Wrong The simple fact is, if we learn mainly in an environment in which we pump out answers that are either right or wrong, with no middle ground or room for creativity, we will begin to see the whole world as black and white. We will expect every problem to have a right answer. Participation in the arts opens up our mind to the possibility that the world is full of color and there is more than one way to achieve a goal. When the pressure of needing to find the right answer is removed, it becomes easier to take a risk and try – and trying is the only way to succeed.

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Teaching Championship

Posted by Erin Gough, Jul 23, 2013 4 comments

Erin Gough Erin Gough

A friend of mine recently graduated from one of Pennsylvania’s state universities with a bachelor’s degree in art education. When she walked across that stage to Pomp and Circumstance, she had proven that she had learned everything she needed to teach young minds all the skills they needed to create breathtaking works of art and to think through all the important steps of the art-making process.

After completing the requisite coursework, surviving long hours of student teaching, and passing the Praxis in her course area, the State of Pennsylvania gave her a certificate that showed she was qualified to stand in front of a classroom of students eager to discover.

But what she didn’t learn was exactly where all of those requirements came from. How did her University gain accreditation?  What are the priorities of the school district that is hiring her? Who is responsible for hiring the person in the State Department of Education that can serve a resource when she has concerns about state standards or a new teacher evaluation program? Who determines how much professional education is necessary to remain certified?  Who determines how state money is allocated across and within school districts?

The answer to all these questions vary from state-to-state, but in every case, these decisions should be informed by the voices of those in the classroom every day, the teachers themselves.

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