Models for Assessing Art Performance (MAAP): A K-12 Project
Dorn, Charles M., Studies in Art Education
There is an increased pressure by school administrators and state Departments of Education to regulate how art teachers assess K-12 student art performances. Due to the lack of art assessment tests, opportunities for training in art assessment and information on authentic means of assessment, it was proposed that a cooperative effort by three university art education faculties at Florida State, Purdue, and Northern Illinois Universities and four U.S. school districts in Florida, Indiana, and Illinois undertake the research and development of pre-K-12 art assessment models that could be replicated in the nation's schools. This effort was implemented through three major activities: 1) teacher training and assessment development institutes, 2) applied assessment and technological research in school art classrooms, and 3) dissemination of the results of research to the art teaching profession. Charles Dorn from Florida State University, Bob Sabol from Purdue University, and Stan Madeja from Northern Illinois University conducted the training and supervised the research in the 11 school districts in Florida, Indiana, and Illinois. The Models for Assessing Art Performance (MAAP) project, which emphasized teaching, research and service, relates directly to the mission of all three teacher education institutions and to the needs of the school districts in meeting the demands set by national and state Goals 2000 achievement standards.
The Need for Reform
While school reformers see testing as a significant part of the reform effort, more effort needs to be expended on answering the question of how such testing efforts relate to what teachers teach. Cusic (1994) observed that teachers in school reform should accept personal interpretation and choice as central to their professionalism. As quasi-autonomous individuals, they teach in their classrooms in an independent and self-reliant manner and most often behave as individuals and not as a collective force. Usually, teachers do not feel free to join or not join the reform effort unless as they are directed to do so by state mandated compliance. If, as Cusic noted, teachers are the deciding element in school reform he felt they should feel free to join or not join in the reform effort and further to be able to regulate themselves and set their own policies and standards. The fear of regulators and reformers is, however, that granting such freedom will cause teachers to question the reforms and even argue for increased individual rights and privileges rather than reform their teaching and, therefore, improve learning. Given a choice, reformers would rather mandate teacher compliance and, eventually, also mandate the means for assessment.
Testing as Reform
Although the federal and most state governments are currently committed to testing all elementary and secondary students, a limited number of standardized visual arts tests in addition to the NAEP test are available for teachers or school districts to use. Also, the use of paper-and-pencil, true-false, and multiple choice tests and even essay type responses rarely provide adequate estimates of what students learn in most K-12 school art programs where studio-based activity is the primary means of instruction. What the educational reformers would like to see is a single art test that can measure what students know and are able to do in all of the nation's art programs. No such tests are available due to the lack of adequate means to quantify expressive activity and the unwillingness of all the nation's art teachers to teach art in the same way.
The Art Teacher's Role in Reform
For effective art learning we have to answer the question of why we believe we can embarrass teachers and school administrators into higher levels of professional performance through the imposition of a single set of predetermined educational standards (Eisner, 1992). Is there any reason, Eisner asked, why we should expect future educational policy reforms to have any greater influence than those of the past? …