Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Regional Findings from a Secondary Analysis of the 1997 NAEP Art Assessment Based on Responses to Creating and Responding Exercises

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Regional Findings from a Secondary Analysis of the 1997 NAEP Art Assessment Based on Responses to Creating and Responding Exercises

Article excerpt

In 1969 Congress charged the U.S. Department of Education through the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) with developing and implementing nationally representative and continuing measurement of student achievement in American schools. Assessment of visual arts achievement began with the 1974 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and continued in 1978. Findings from these assessments provided initiative for similar high stakes, large-scale, state level assessments of visual arts achievement in the 1980s (Sabol, 1990, 1994, 1998a; Shuler & Connealy, 1998). However, subsequent NAEP visual arts assessments were not forthcoming. It was not until 17 years later that the visual arts were included again as part of the NAEP. Only after arts education was added to the nation's education goals as a core subject (U.S. Department of Education, 1994) and Congress stated that "the arts are forms of understanding and knowing that are fundamentally important to education" (U.S. Congress, 1994, p 2) were the arts reintroduced in the assessment. Subsequently, assessments were done in the visual arts, music, and theater. Dance was not included in the 1997 NAEP. Each student who participated in the assessment was assessed in one of the three arts.

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) was established to formulate policy guidelines for the NAEP. It is responsible for selecting subject areas to be assessed, developing assessment objectives, identifying appropriate achievement goals for each grade level and subject tested, and establishing standards and procedures for interstate and national comparisons (National Assessment Governing Board, 1997). The NAGB divided processes involved in the visual arts into creating and responding categories and outlined specific knowledge and skills content for each category in its assessment framework for the arts (National Assessment Governing Board, 1997). The NAEP framework was deliberately designed to reflect best practices from the field and to be compatible with the national arts standards (Music Educators National Conference, 1994; National Assessment Governing Board, 1997). Assessment exercises included authentic tasks that assessed knowledge and skills in creating and responding to visual arts. Independent sets of exercises on the 1997 NAEP in art were divided into Creating and Responding blocks. Items in these blocks focused on content knowledge, skills, and processes used in making and responding to art. Measurement of students' Creating and Responding ability also is compatible with the national visual arts standards (Music Educators National Conference, 1994), visual arts curriculum development (Sabol, 1994), and visual arts classroom practices. A total of eight blocks were developed including three Creating blocks, two Responding blocks, and three blocks that combined assessment of creating and responding knowledge and skills in the visual arts.1

No student completed all blocks of the assessment. Students completed either one Responding block and one Creating block or two Responding blocks. In order to measure students' knowledge and skills in creating, students were required to create and work with various media to make visual art. Students showed "their abilities to communicate in works of art, think of different solutions to visual problems, generate ideas for works of art and design, and use their technical proficiency in realizing those ideas" (Persky, Sandene, & Askew, 1998, p. 80). They also were asked to evaluate their own work in written form. Evaluation questions asked students to identify, describe, and analyze important qualities in their work. Responding blocks included exercises in which students viewed works of art representing a variety of cultures, genres, and historical periods. Responding questions focused on students' ability to demonstrate their knowledge of media and techniques, visual organization, the cultural contexts of artworks, and how user needs are met with well-- designed functional objects. …

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