From July 2014 through December of 2015, thanks in part to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the partner organizations of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards piloted Model Cornerstone Assessment tasks aligned to the newly released national core arts standards in 47 states across the nation. Seventy seven arts educators volunteered their time and their classrooms for the pilot. An additional 25 educators spent the summer of 2015 adjudicating the over 3000 pieces of student work generated to ultimately produce 263 examples of student work and visual arts portfolios housed on the national core arts standards website at



Emerging from the pilot was a set of protocols for assessing student work in the arts. A step by step process which includes:

1. teaching to pre-established model cornerstone assessments; units of suggested instruction aligned to standards with embedded assessment models created by and for arts educators

2. creating online communities of learners to support teachers, establish sharing and communications and meet needs for professional development

3. collecting student work scored by the teachers as meeting standard from diverse classrooms across the nation through a process of online uploading to secure sites

4. forming small teams of five educators for each discipline as benchmarkers who would be asked to visit the uploaded student work and rescore

5. convening the benchmarking teams face to face to review work for which they could not reach consensus in order to finalize the adjudicating process, increase inter-rater reliability and produce benchmarked samples of student work aligned with model cornerstone assessments and national core arts standards at grades 2, 5 and 8

Assessment of Learning and Project Evaluation
During the entire time of the pilot and benchmarking, input was collected from the educators involved using survey tools. Representative data collected from Dance, Media Arts, Theatre and Visual Arts educators may be viewed in the survey summaries below; as of the close of the project, data collected from our Music piloting and benchmarking teachers was still being reviewed as a part of a research study and unavailable for posting.

Click here to view a summary of the survey data collected from piloting teachers
Survey Tool
Click here to view the survey data collected from benchmarking teachers
Survey Tool
Click here to view a summary/project evaluation of the lessons learned

Dissemination and Sharing
At the end of the project the benchmarking protocols were presented in a workshop held at the Arts Education Partnership forum in September of 2015. In addition, facilitators and project personnel presented over 35 workshops and professional development sessions to share the project and benchmarking protocols.
Click here to view a log of the presentations and workshops
View the PowerPoint from the AEP session below:

View a brief video describing benchmarking protocols: