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Guild Members Represented in National Arts Assessment Report

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Feb 14, 2012

Guild members participated as survey respondents in the first-ever nationwide effort to examine current practices in the assessment of K-12 student learning in the arts both in and out of the classroom. Commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and conducted by evaluation firm WestEd, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts provides a description of the current state of arts assessment, including a review of the high-quality literature available and common practices being used to assess student learning. It also identifies potential areas in which arts assessment could be improved.

The report has broken out the study’s findings by different stakeholder groups who particpated to offer a clearer picture of their particular experiences with assessing students’ arts knowledge and skills, and of their needs related to arts assessment. These stakeholders included school and district staff, arts/cultural organizations, arts councils, arts researchers/evaluators and others. “Understanding the assessment experiences and practices of arts education stakeholders, including their needs, is one step toward helping improve student assessment in the arts,” notes the NEA.

Recommendations for improving arts assessment include:

  1. Establishing a national clearinghouse for high-quality assessment tools, informational documents, how-to resources, and research and evaluation reports to allow teachers, teaching artists, policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and other interested parties to easily access vetted materials;
  2. Developing professional learning communities to support arts educators in their assessment efforts and allow for sharing of both questions and best practices;
  3. Providing extensive professional development opportunities for targeted audiences on a wide variety of topics in order to increase the quality and validity of arts assessment. Three specific areas of need are: (1) developing valid and reliable rubrics; (2) recognizing high-quality assessment materials; and (3) understanding the difference between arts knowledge and skills, particularly with regard to appropriate assessment methods; and
  4. Creating a representative advisory committee responsible for setting a national research agenda, prioritizing professional development topics, and conceptualizing the clearinghouse.

On February 14, Guild Executive Director Jonathan Herman represented constituents at the NEA’s convening and live webcast, Improving Arts Learning through Standards & Assessment: A National Endowment for the Arts Research Roundtable, which highlighted key findings of the report. Patricia Moore Shaffer, former Senior Evaluation Officer at the National Endowment for the Arts, presented a session highlighting findings of this study at the Guild's 74th annual Conference for Community Arts Education in Boston, MA this past November.

Read the Full Report

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.