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Update: Revising the National Arts Standards

Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

Since Tim Mikulski’s post on June 13 about the national arts standards, a lot has been happening!

On August 30, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) convened a meeting to bring stakeholders up to speed with the revision process of the 1994 National Arts Standards.

The meeting, held at National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC) headquarters, gathered together artsed heavy hitters from all over the country: from the NCCAS leadership team, as well as representatives from organizations such as the Kennedy Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Wolf Trap, and more. In addition, in order to remain fully inclusive, the meeting was open to the public via live video streaming (full list of participants may be found here).

Revision Process Timeline
The meeting began with facilitator Marcia McCaffrey, arts guru from the New Hampshire Department of Education, giving a background on NCCAS and the process thus far. Marcia challenged us to consider benefits/challenges of a conceptual framework and shared the projected timeline for standards writing:

9/2011: Hiring of Project Director
11/2011: NCCAS issues guiding principles for a conceptual framework
12/2011: Standards writing teams established by NCCAS
1/2012-6/2012: Project Director manages the writing and revision of standards draft.
7/2012: Release & dissemination of draft version of revised standards document for public comment
9/2012-11/2012: NCCAS review & response to public comment; revisions made to standards by writing teams led by Project Director.
12/2012: Release of revised arts standards

It’s been important to NCCAS from the beginning that in order to hold our process to the highest standard (one which our young people deserve), the standards revision process must not only be transparent but also state-led, research-based, and grounded in student work.

1. States Survey
Next at the meeting, the wonderful Lynn Tuttle of the Arizona Department of Education presented feedback from a survey conducted by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE). 39 states participated in the survey, indicating the current status of their Arts Education standards, their strong interest in the revision of national arts standards, and some recommendations for the process. Highlights include:

•    72% of the states who have yet to revise their standards would be willing to wait to revise theirs until the national arts standards are revised.
•    Some states would be willing to consider adopting the new national arts standards as proposed, similar to the adoption of the Common Core standards.
•    States also indicated what they believed should be included in the newly-revised standards to be useful to the arts educators in their state.

Full data from the states survey may be found here.

2. College Board Research
Next, NCCAS leadership team members Nancy Rubino and Amy Charleroy presented research findings from two of four reports requested by NCCAS:
•    International Arts Education Standards: a Survey of the Arts Education Standards and Practices of Fifteen Countries and Regions
•    Arts Education Standards and 21st Century Skills: An Analysis of the National Standards for Arts Education (1994) as Compared to the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts

Other research studies still being conducted by The College Board are:
•    A study on college-level standards: what are the current expectations or guidelines for what students should know or be able to do in the arts at the college level?
•    Child development research: what are the best practices in arts education that acknowledge developmental needs and abilities at different grade levels?

3. Student Work
After a viewing of student artwork from all four disciplines to bring the student voice into the room and remind us of our grounding in student work, the participants broke out into small work groups with the charge of creating a model of a possible framework. In the late afternoon all small groups came back together to discuss the issues and ideas generated by this work.

Conclusion and Next Steps
It was determined that an NCCAS Framework Committee, using transcripts from the arts task force meeting, archival documents, and other supporting materials, will create a foundational document to guide the writers in their standards revision work. The framework will be developed to be approved by NCCAS leadership in time for the November 1 meeting of NCCAS and SEADAE.

The day-long meeting also included work on the framework, questions about media arts, and tough ones like “what if we just start over?”.

Cory Wilkerson provides a brilliant, more detailed summary of the meeting here (I’m out of space). More questions? Check out the NCCAS website for frequent updates.

NCCAS is committed to a transparent process and welcomes comments, suggestions, and questions both on their website and through Twitter (hashtag: #artsstds). NCCAS wants to hear from you.

What should arts education look like in the 21st century?

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