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The draft 2014 Core Arts Standards: a new review opportunity

The draft 2014 Core Arts Standards: a new review opportunity

The 2014 Core Arts Standards are nearly ready for release. For the past six months, teams of writers across five disciplines—theatre, dance, media arts, music, and visual arts—have been revising the drafts based on feedback from teachers, policy makers, and other arts education invested stakeholders. The Educational Theatre Association and American Alliance for Theatre in Education, have provided leadership and support for the theatre aspect of the project. Now, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is calling on reviewers to take one more look at the drafts, with the goal of launching a web-based version of the standards in June.

The final review of the draft standards begins on February 14 and ends on February 28. The drafts of all five arts areas (along with Model Cornerstone Assessments) are available for download on the NCCAS wiki page at, giving everyone plenty of time to study them prior to the opening of the review.

If you took part in previous reviews, NCCAS needs you to re-examine the work and consider whether or not the revisions have addressed your concerns. If you’re a first-time reviewer, great—we need to know whether or not you can see your teaching and students in the standards.

To give you some sense of what you’re reviewing, here’s a graphic illustration of how the standards are structured:

The downloadable Excel spreadsheet includes PreK-12 performance standards across four artistic processes—Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting—with three Overarching Anchors Standards for each process (only two for Connecting). While the spreadsheet does not include all the standards’ Understanding by Design (UbD) format elements (Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions) they are included in the Model Cornerstone Assessment (MCA) example that’s also part of this review. All the elements in the black and gray bars of the graphic will be included in the standards website; Resources will be a link to each arts discipline’s respective association page. 

While you’re waiting to participate in the full review, here’s an opportunity for you to begin offering valuable input on the standards right away. Starting today (Wednesday, February 5), I will post one new question in the Advocacy Community Discussion Page each day, until the launch of the formal review on February 14. The comments and dialogue generated in the community discussion will be included as part of the review data that will be considered as final changes are made to the standards prior to release.

The community questions will focus around five aspects of the standards that NCCAS is seeking input on. Here they are, with some basic definitions as they apply to the work:

Breadth: The requirement that the standards should reference all areas of information and skills that are considered important for students to acquire.

Depth: The cognitive complexity required to demonstrate mastery and appropriate usage of the knowledge and skills contained in a particular standard.

Clarity: The criteria addressing the question as to whether the standards effectively communicate to the reader what it is that students should know and be able to do at each grade band.

Specificity: The criterion of whether the standards offer information that is specific enough to provide comprehensive content guidance, including useful distinctions of content from one grade band to the next, while still allowing for local curriculum development and alignment.

Measurability: Measurability means whether the standards identify knowledge and skills that can be assessed. The standards will be examined to determine whether the content identified is measurable. Examples of content that is difficult to measure include student dispositions, instructional strategies, or generally held goals of the curriculum. The report will identify any content that appears not to be measurable, providing the rationale for that judgment.

Certainly there will be questions generated by the dialogue we commence today, and there’s no rule that says you can’t take the discussion in another direction. And that’s exactly what we need: opinions on what works and what does not in these standards. What’s the point of theatre standards if they can’t help educators teach, administrators understand, and students learn?

See you on the Advocacy Community Advocacy Discussion Page. Okay—here’s our first question of the day: Do the theatre standards offer enough clarity, specificity, and measurability for use in your classroom?


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