Magazine article District Administration

Students Will Dance, Act and Design with Core Arts Standards

Magazine article District Administration

Students Will Dance, Act and Design with Core Arts Standards

Article excerpt

You think math and English have high standards? Try the arts.

The National Core Arts Standards were released in October. They update the initial standards released in 1994, which included instructional guidelines for dance, music, theater and visual arts.

The new standards add media arts such as animation, film, gaming and computer design. They emphasize developing artistic ideas, refining them, and following projects through to completion. They also require students to analyze artworks, including by examining societal, cultural and historical contexts.

Tight budgets and a fierce focus on standardized testing in math and English have led many district leaders to cut back on arts education in recent years. But advocates hope to help districts refocus on arts instruction that fosters innovation, creativity and collaboration.

All 50 states have some arts standards, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, many have not been updated in decades, and implementation varies widely.

For example, only some states provide funding for mandated art classes. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia required arts credits for high school graduation in 2014. And 17 states assessed student learning in the arts that year.

The updated standards are not connected to the Common Core, but they promote the nation's college and career readiness goals for students, says Marcia McCaffrey, president of the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE). "Employers are looking for students who are creative and innovative, who can take a process or project from beginning to end and understand all of the steps of revision, refinement, completion and collaboration," says McCaffrey, who is also an arts consultant for the New Hampshire Department of Education.

The standards outline an age-appropriate progression of artistic study. …

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