Executive Summary – National Coalition for Core Arts Standards
Arts Task Force Meeting – August 30, 2011

What follows is an executive summary of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) Arts Task Force meeting held Tuesday August 30, 2011 at the headquarters of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME, formerly known as MENC) in Reston, Virginia. Key concepts have been highlighted in this brief synopsis. Please see our archive page for full transcripts of meeting notes and video recordings .

Laying the Groundwork

Facilitator Marcia McCaffrey, New Hampshire Department of Education/SEADAE opened the meeting with a definition of the task ahead and shared the overall time line for standards writing.

September 2011 Hiring of Project Director
November 2011 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) issues guiding principles in the form of a conceptual framework
December, 2011 Standards writing teams established by NCCAS
Jan 2012-June, 2012 Project Director manages the writing and revision of
Standards draft.
July, 2012 Release and dissemination of draft version of revised standards document for gathering public comment
Sept-Nov 2012 NCCAS review and response to revised arts standards public comment; revisions made to standards by writing teams led by Project Director.
December, 2012 Release of revised arts standards

The charge for those assembled at the meeting was to begin laying the groundwork for the process of creating the conceptual framework which would inform the standards writing teams. A conceptual framework was defined as a tool that represents the organized ideas which give structure to learning and defines the overarching concepts that help teachers instruct and students learn.

State Response

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is committed to a transparent process of revising the national arts standards that is state led.
Facilitator Lynn Tuttle, Arizona Department of Education/SEADAE presented an overview of data collected from the states using a survey tool sent to State Directors of Arts Education. Thirty nine of the forty one states with Arts Education Directors responded to the survey tool, indicating the current status of their Arts Education standards, their strong interest in the revision of national arts standards and some recommendations for the process. Of note were statistics indicating that 72% of the states who have yet to revise their standards would be willing to wait to revise their State Arts Standards until the national arts standards are revised. Lynn further noted that some states would be willing to consider adopting the new national arts standards as proposed, similar to the adoption of the Common Core standards. In the survey, states also indicated what they believed shouldbe included in the newly revised standards to be useful to the Arts Educators in their state. The data from the states survey may be found at: [[../../file/view/SEADAE%20States%20SurveyBrief_3.pdf|http://nccas.wikispaces.com/file/view/SEADAE%20States%20SurveyBrief_3.pdf]].

Research Findings

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is committed to a process of revising national arts standards that is research based with a solid grounding in student work.
Research Committee representatives Dr. Nancy Rubino and Ms. Amy Charleroy of The College Board presented the College Board research findings. Dr. Rubino noted that NCCAS members had asked for supplementary information in a number of areas including:

  • International Standards and benchmarks
    • What are global trends in arts education that the writers of the new standards should be aware of?

  • P21 Skills and the current standards
    • To what extent do the current standards align with 21st Century Skills? Are there any P21 areas that the standards could address, but currently don’t?

  • College-level Standards
    • What are current expectations or guidelines for what students should know or be able to do in the arts at the college level?
  • Child development research
    • What are best practices in arts education that acknowledge developmental needs and abilities at different grade levels?
The research committee presented two of the four reports which have been released to date. The first report, The International Arts Education Standards, consists of summaries of standards and practices, and includes a cross-referenced chart of common themes and ideas from Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela. The arts standards of these countries were identified by NCCAS as exemplar resources for the coalition’s writers and reviewers in their upcoming standards revision work. Across the board, all of the countries had language related to the top three skills on the chart, which are habits that are directly related to creating works of art – generating ideas or content, expressing and realizing them, and responding to and appreciating your own work and the work of others. It was noted that the United States 1994 National Standards for Arts Educationaddress all the major themes and big ideas that are found in most other countries’ standards, but in other regions the standards and their related assessment strategies appear to have been planned in a more connected, holistic way.
The second leg of the research compared the 1994 National Standards for Arts Educationwith the 21st Century Skills Map in the Arts (http://www.p21.org/documents/P21_arts_map_final.pdf) which was created by the NCCAS arts education professional organizations and released in 2010. To facilitate thinking about how this new skill set can inform future standards in the arts; the research team looked at the extent to which they are already present in the current 1994 standards. The 21st Century Skills Map in the Arts identifies thirteen habits/abilities as crucial to success in school and in the workplace. For purposed of the research, the list was roughly divided into three groups, one of thinking skills, one of media and technology literacy and research skills, and one list related to mostly to working habits and work ethic. Overall, the highest instances of alignment were in Communication, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Creativity and the areas of least alignment were Communication, Information, Communication, and Technology Literacy, and Productivity and Accountability.
The International Arts Education Standards: a Survey of the Arts Education Standards and Practices of Fifteen Countries and Regions and 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 may be downloaded from the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards website at http://nccas.wikispaces.com

Towards a Framework

Coming to Consensus

Facilitator Marcia McCaffrey shared several frameworks including the NAEP, the 21st Century Skills and Australia’s standards; with their corresponding framing mechanism:

NAEP- create, perform, respond
21st Century Skills – communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration
Australia’s National Arts Standards – generating, realizing responding

The group sent some time discussing the qualities of a framework and identifying advantages and challenges of a conceptual framework in light of its use in the revision process. A summary of the comments from the participants attending both virtually and face to face entitled “Conceptual Framework Advantages & Challenges” may be found at http://nccas.wikispaces.com/8-30-11+Archive+

Understanding by Design

Debora Hansen, Delaware State Department of Education presented an overview of Understanding by Design curriculum planning. Understanding by Design, created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, is concept and understanding based rather than activity based. This system asks that we begin with the end in mind, identifying the concepts and aligning the content and assessment. It encourages the establishment of clear learning goals; core curriculum that defines what students should know and be able to do within a content area. Ms. Hansen challenged the group to consider: What is truly purposeful learning in the arts? A discussion ensued of the importance of balancing knowing and doing in the arts; considering that Understanding by Design models are sometimes heavily weighted towards cognitive knowing.

Next Generation of Arts Standards Consensus Details Document

Facilitator Lynn Tuttle shared a consensus document outlining intended details of the next generation of arts standards. The document has been evolving over the prior year’s meetings of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards with input from several State Directors of Arts Education. NCCAS revised the consensus details during their meeting on 8/31 to reflect feedback from the attendees of the 8/30 meeting (see number 6) Nine details have been agreed upon to date:
  1. National Arts Standards should extend PreK-14.
  2. National Arts Standards should include Big Ideas/Enduring Understandings. At least some of these will be shared across art forms.
  3. National Arts Standards should help teachers focus their work, rather than providing an unrealistically broad scope.
  4. National Arts Standards should explicitly reflect embedded 21st century skills
  5. National Arts Standards should be based on the expectation that students, regardless of later elective choices, learn a common body of skills/content in each art form Pre-8.
  6. National Arts Standards should be grade-by-grade from PreK-8 in music, visual arts, theatre, and dance. National Arts Standards should be differentiated for electives. (based on NationalCenter for Educational Statistics course codes)
  7. With the help of higher education/research colleagues including College Board, we should base grade level (or possible cluster) expectations on what research reveals students can do when provided with quality instruction over time.
  8. We should validate National Arts Standards’ research-based by examining student work uploaded by skilled teachers – that demonstrate what well-taught children actually do, and also provide the basis for benchmarking (anchor sets), pre-service and in-service teacher training.
  9. Standards writers should, to the extent possible, validate National Arts Standards’ research-based-but-still-somewhat-theoretical expectations by examining student work uploaded by skilled teachers – perhaps using wiki (or EdSteps?) tools – that demonstrate what well-taught children actually do, and also provide the basis for benchmarking (anchor sets), pre-service and in-service teacher training.

The full document may be viewed at http://nccas.wikispaces.com.

Beginning the Work

After a viewing of student artwork from all four disciplines to bring the student voice into the room and remind us of our grounding in student work, the participants both face to face and virtually broke out into small work groups with the charge of creating a model of a possible framework. In the late afternoon all small groups came back together to discuss the issues and ideas generated by this work.

Media Arts and National Arts Standards

Moving into the afternoon’s work of approaching a framework model, much discussion centered on media arts. How are media arts defined? Is technology synonymous with media arts? Are media, digital media, and technology tools, artistic mediums or both? Should media arts be embedded within each discipline or treated as a separate arts discipline? How can the framework express the landscape of tomorrow, rather than be limited to what we currently see today? It was suggested that NCCAS will hold a future webinar with the leadership team to further define this issue for the framers and standards writers.

Suggestions for Framers

Working in four small groups, meeting attendees both virtually and face to face took time to wrestle with creating a model for a framework.
Should the framework be conceptually driven?
Should the framework be based on big ideas and enduring understandings?

Two of the small groups also attended to the resulting product, what might the framework look like? Where and how will it be housed? How will it connect to the standards? How will it connect to instruction and curriculum?
From this work two beginnings of working models emerged; one a mind map and one in outline form. Several considerations for scope and sequence and eventual format of the framework also emerged.
`A full archive of break out group sharing has been created on the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards website at http://nccas.wikispaces.com/8-30-11+Archive+.

Final Discussion and Creating the Charge

Discussion Highlights: If we “blow it all out of the water” to start fresh, where do we begin?
- we need to start with why kids make art: What do they get from the experience?
- we need to strip away the language of 21st century and embed the concepts
- it is not about a checklist but about enduring understandings
- there are three purposes of the standards to keep in mind: to help kids learn, and to help teachers teach; also advocacy, how our subject is useful to this world

Discussion Highlights: What is unique to the arts? How might this be a beginning point?
- the arts include aesthetic values; the arts provide a symbol system that is non-verbal
- mastery is key – just as in any subject, mastery of the arts strengthens self confidence, engages learners, allows an outlet for creativity
- it is key that we are acknowledged as having the same value as other disciplines
- the Arts are a composite of our history a repository of our culture
- the arts knowledge and skills are inseparable; when a child gains knowledge and skill they are producing something of value to that child. The experience and the feedback loop is immediate, offering feedback on multiple levels, cognitive, emotional, social.

Next Steps

It was determined that an NCCAS Framework Committee, using transcripts from the Arts Task Force meeting, archival documents and other supporting materials, will create a foundational document to guide the writers in their standards revision work. It was suggested that the committee include the chairs of each of the designated standards writing teams. The framework will be developed to be approved by NCCAS Leadership in time for the November 1st and 2nd meeting between NCCAS and the states as represented by twenty five Arts Education Directors from the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education. Persons interested in following this work should check the NCCAS website frequently for updates and drafts.

The members of the leadership team of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards thanks the many attendees both virtual and otherwise, the persons who attending through our live streaming video, the persons who tweeted comments and responses and all others who participated or will participate by viewing archives of the meeting. NCCAS is committed to a transparent process and therefore welcomes comments, suggestions and questions both on their website and through Twitter @nccascomm. For more information about the work of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards please visit our website at http://nccas.wikispaces.com.

Addendum: Arts Task Force Meeting Attendees

John Abodeely The KennedyCenter
Darrell Ayers The KennedyCenter
Michael Blakeslee* National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC)
Jane Bonbright* National Dance Education Organization
Denise Brandenburg National Endowment for the Arts
Amy Charleroy The College Board
Kristen Engebretsen Americans for the Arts
Rima Farber National Dance Education Organization
Mimi Flaherty Willis Wolftrap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts
Debora Hansen* State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education/Delaware Department of Education*
Amy Jensen* American Alliance for Theatre and Education
Lynne Kingsley* American Alliance for Theatre and Education
Kathi Levin* National Art Education Association
Marcia McCaffrey* State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education/New Hampshire Department of Education
Jim Palmarini* Educational Theatre Association
Michael Peitz* Educational Theatre Association
Frank Phillip Arts Consultant
Deborah Reeve* National Art Education Association
Nancy Rubino* The College Board
Dale Schmid New Jersey Department of Education
Scott Shuler National Association for Music Education/Connecticut Department of Education*
Michael Sikes* Arts Education Partnership*
James Tucker Maryland Department of Education
Lynn Tuttle* State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education/Arizona Department of Education
Cory Wilkerson* State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education

* Member of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Leadership Team

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is committed to a transparent process. The following attendees were welcomed virtually through the use of interactive online meeting tools allowing them full participation in the meeting from a distance.

Richard Baker Louisiana Department of Education
Jessica Balboni League of American Orchestras
Daniel Beattie National Endowment for the Arts
Nancy Carr State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education
Beth Cornell State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education
Sarah Cunningham VirginiaCommonwealthUniversitySchool of the Arts
John Deskins West Virginia Department of Education
David Dik Young Audiences
Mary Duffy Nebraska Department of Education
Robert Duncan Kentucky Department of Education
Joyce Huser Kansas Department of Education
Terry Liu National Endowment for the Arts
Linda Lovins Florida Department of Education
Mary Luehrsen NAMM/NAMM Foundation
Susan Mueller American Orff Schulwerk Association
Argy Nestor Maine Department of Education
Heather Noonan League of American Orchestras
Leslie Yolen New York State Department of Education