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


Prepared by the College Board for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

August 2011

The College Board
Office of Academic Initiatives
45 Columbus Avenue 10023-6992
New York, NY

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards
800-587-6814

Prepared by:

Amy Charleroy, The College Board, New York
Charles Gentry, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York
Ardina Greco, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York
Nancy Rubino, The College Board, New York
Matt Schatz, The College Board, New York


Individuals are encouraged to cite this report and its contents. In doing so, please include the following attribution:

The College Board, Arts Education Standards and 21st Century Skills: An analysis of the National Standards for Arts Education as compared to the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts, New York, N.Y., August


Introduction

In 1994, the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations developed and released the National Standards for Arts Education, the first document to outline in detail what K-12 student should know, understand, and be able to do in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts classes. Sixteen years later, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts, designed in partnership with art educators. The document ties specific arts-based outcomes to the13 habits and abilities known as 21st Century Skills, which include: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, information literacy, and social and cross-cultural skills, among others. Both of these documents are used widely in classrooms as guides for planning and assessment, and they have additionally come to be powerful tools for advocacy in the field of arts education.

The 21st Century Skills Map defines the ways in which each of these 13 skills may be present in the arts disciplines, and encourages educators to think broadly about the variety of ways that arts learning takes place, including and beyond the acquisition of the technical skills and abilities of a particular discipline. The introduction to this document asserts that “while each of the arts disciplines has its own unique set of knowledge, skills, and processes, the arts share common characteristics that make arts education powerful preparation for college, career, and a fulfilling life.” Similarly, the National Standards for Arts Education contain benchmarks for discipline-specific skills as well as for the broader habits and abilities that the arts can cultivate. All sets of standards address the ability to communicate in the language or processes of a particular discipline, analyze works in that discipline, and relate knowledge and skills across disciplines.

Each document contends that by participating in the arts, students learn discipline-specific skills, and also cultivate broader habits, abilities, and understandings. However, are the National Standards and the 21st Century Skills Map referring to the same sets of habits and abilities? When these two documents are directly compared, how much overlap is there in the language and the overall goals?

College Board analysts undertook the task of performing such an alignment, to determine where the National Standards share similarities with the 21st Century Skills.

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