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  What to do?Feb 26, 2014 7:42 AMVictoria Kesling Councill
  RE: What to do?May 19, 2014 4:43 PMRyan Moore
  RE: What to do?May 20, 2014 9:18 AMLeslie Van Leishout
  RE: What to do?May 22, 2014 7:53 AMRobert DiMartino
  RE: What to do?May 20, 2014 10:36 AMJay Seller
  RE: What to do?May 21, 2014 8:48 AMRyan Moore
  RE: What to do?May 20, 2014 11:53 AMGai Jones
  RE: What to do?May 22, 2014 10:20 AMJames Palmarini
  RE: What to do?May 22, 2014 7:19 PMGai Jones
  RE: What to do?May 23, 2014 8:15 AMLeslie Van Leishout
  RE: What to do?May 23, 2014 11:32 AMRyan Moore
 

1.
What to do?
From: Victoria Kesling Councill
To: Advocacy
Posted: Feb 26, 2014 7:42 AM
Subject: What to do?
Message:
I am very interested in Advocating for both AP Theatre and Board Certification. I am certified in both Art and Theatre but primarily teach theatre. Due to the fact that I only teach one Visual Art class a year it would be extremely difficult for me to acquire Board Certification in Visual Art. It makes me a little nutty that I have these options for Visual Art but NOT for theatre. What can be done right now to advocate for this?

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Victoria Kesling Councill
Theatre Teacher
New Kent County Public Schools


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2.
RE: What to do?
From: Ryan Moore
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 19, 2014 4:43 PM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
I wish I knew, but, if you figure out, I'd like to do my part.  Are there letters we should be writing?  To whom?  

Personally, I'm most frustrated by the lack of national board certification (full disclosure: I teach middle school, so although, for the sake of legitimacy of the field I fully support AP Theatre....and it DOES trickle down--Parents decide BEFORE their children enter HS which subjects are the important ones and which are not...board certification for theatre is something that could DIRECTLY impact those of us that don't teach HS).  As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I have phone the board certification office a couple of times in the last few years and was counseled to either seek a middle school generalist certification (so nice to be told that those of us who work so hard at developing a very specific and rigorous set of intellectual, physical, and affective skills in our students can't be considered specialists) or seek career and technical education certification (which, frankly, seems a poor fit--I, like I assume many theatre teachers do, do not see myself primarily as preparing good worker bees, but as preparing more thoughtful thinker/citizen/artists).

Our music and visual arts colleagues are able to distinguish themselves through national board certification in their own areas teaching art for art's sake. Don't the soon-to-be unveiled NCAAS standards serve as some degree of proof that Theatre is its own artform standing shoulder to shoulder with music and visual art?  (Broadening our view outside the arts to other traditionally elective classes, our colleagues in PE and World Languages also are able to acquire specific national board certification in their own disciplines, our denial of which is a not-so-subtle message that the disciplinary thinking uniquely won through engagement with theatre is not as valid or as worthy as that won in the classroom next door).  I assume I'm not the only theatre teacher who feels like he spends far too much of his time battling the notion that theatre is a lesser, fringe subject within his own building and community.  Here the message is on a national scale.

I have a question for someone far more informed than I (and I know this community is the place to find such individuals): what percentage of school districts, even in this lean time for teacher compensation, offer increased pay for faculty members who have board certification?  In other words how many teachers who primarily or solely teach theatre (I am in the latter category) are being denied this opportunity for professional development AND increased compensation simply because the subject we have devoted our lives to is being officially unacknowledged by the National Board?



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Ryan Moore
Ferndale MI
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3.
RE: What to do?
From: Leslie Van Leishout
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 20, 2014 9:18 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
Ryan,
In answer to your question about compensation for National Board Certification. I don't know about the total number of districts, but I do know that in Washington State and many other states the compensation is legislated. In Washington all National Board Certified teachers receive an extra $5000 per year. If they teach in a challenging school up to an additional $5000. For a total of up to $10,000 per year. I know that many states have this type of blanket policy. District don't normally do the actual paying (even though they cut the check) the actual pay is coming from state funding and is legislated by the state government. I agree with you and others that we need to be a part of this national movement for certification. My question is...How many of the theatre teachers out there would sign up the first year? One of the problems is that the national board feels that there are not enough teachers of theatre that would sign up each year to make it sustainable to offer this certification. I guess the real question is What is the number of theatre teachers in America? And how many would seek certification? I agree this is important and worth our time to work on nationwide.
Thanks for bringing this up Victoria!
Leslie

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Leslie Van Leishout
Theater Education Coordinator
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville IL
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4.
RE: What to do?
From: Robert DiMartino
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 22, 2014 7:53 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
I'm pretty sure that I would sign up.  Should a petition of some sort be started?

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Robert DiMartino
Theatre Teacher
Cumberland High School
West Warwick RI
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5.
RE: What to do?
From: Jay Seller
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 20, 2014 10:36 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:

Ryan,

You bring up some great points, but I would caution on the side emotional conclusions. The notion that they - the National Board Certification/College Board - is not valuing your profession, or that they have decided that theatre is of less importance than music and visual arts, would be a gross misinterpretation of where the College Board is coming from.

First and foremost, you must realize they are a corporation, they are looking after the business they represent. There is little to no money in making steps toward national certification for theatre educators (See Alfie Kohn). In fact there is an equally strong case that this type of certification does not improve the level of education that students receive nor does it contribute to the greater good of statue - that theatre teachers desperately cling to when they have these discussions.

You also dismissed the career and technical education track, commenting on "worker bees." The value that theatre teaches students, the ingrained workforce readiness skills are countless, and directly address the 21st century skills. I would look to CTE for classroom endorsement, and by the way Perkins funds will follow that trail. What makes sense to legislatures, and of course the STEM movement, is making a work force that can compete on a global scale. The arts employees and empowers the workforce, thus raising that banner would prove an effective way to address the status of teaching theatre to young people.

In Colorado, pay raises are tied to education, not national certification. The higher the degree, the higher the pay steps for teachers. Not sure if this is the correct value that should be associated with what ultimately comes down to being a great classroom teacher, one who understands the standards and teaches to those standards, one who can show student growth for students involved in the arts classroom, one that can improve teacher effectiveness through sustained student engagement in the arts. Herein lies the value of a great theatre teacher.

 

Jay 



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Jay Seller
Executive Director
Think 360 Arts
Denver CO
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6.
RE: What to do?
From: Ryan Moore
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 21, 2014 8:48 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
Jay,

I acknowledge the emotion in my post...hard not to get fired up in the advocacy community! (smiley face)

It's not that I think that College Board or NBCT is consciously or maliciously devaluing theatre education...of course it's about profitability.  However, and this is the unfortunate reality of this era, a lack of these distinctions offered for theatre reduces the legitimacy of the field in the eyes of many stakeholders: legislators, school boards, administrators, parents....even students and colleagues.  Decisions are made at all of these levels--based on perceptions of worth--of how to allocate scarce resources (money, time, human resources).  So CB and NBCT's decisions not to emphasize and amplify theatre education, as reasonable as they may be for their own profitability, do have the effect of diminishing the field in real ways.  

(And, if these corporations are going to consider their financial self-interest, so shall I.  Not only are many of us unable to pursue the additional compensation board certification could provide, but our job security is threatened when Theatre doesn't have a seat at the big kids' table when it comes to the disciplines.)

I admit: I was glib when referring to the career prep avenue available to the theatre teachers pursuing board certification.  My larger point was that I am struck by the lack of parallelism in NBCT treatment of the arts.  Visual arts and music education could also be classified as career preparation, but certification is offered for teaching them as an artform.  This is not true of Theatre. 

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Ryan Moore
Ferndale MI
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7.
RE: What to do?
From: Gai Jones
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 20, 2014 11:53 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
Ryan, I hear your frustration and echo your concerns. I know that there are other factors which prevent any progression for the AP in Theatre and National Board certification in Theatre. I find it very frustrating that the powers that be in granting such authentication do not understand the importance of continuously making moves toward these goals. 

I know that we are not the only field of study who has concerns with AP and National Board certification. 

Along with  Theatre and Dance credentials in CA, for which I along with others have been working for 40 years. (How depressing). Each year we find new tactics. I would not like the AP in some kind of Performance: Theatre or Dance or Instrumental Music or Vocal Music to become a 40 year advocacy marathon. And I know there are many of us willing to work on this point. 

I think Jim Palmarini has documented the history in this Community Archive. 

I make it known that I would like EdTA along with AATE make these a joint collaborative effort and high priority item.

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Gai Jones
Ojai CA
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8.
RE: What to do?
From: James Palmarini
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 22, 2014 10:20 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:

This has been a great conversation around a very important topic: the validation of theatre educators as trained professionals whose skills and expertise are equal to their peers in other academic areas. Most of this dialogue has been around the long-standing belief that an Advanced Placement theatre exam and National Board Certification would finally give theatre education the recognition that it rightly deserves. Pursuing an AP and Board Certification are both worthwhile advocacy strategies, and EdTA and others have done so in the past.

But I don't think either of these goals are the singular golden rings that can and would validate theatre educators and the field.

In the first place, as noted by others here, the sponsoring organizations of the exam and certification-the College Board and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards-do not create new products to validate teachers. They market goods to meet a demand-in this case, a tests that measure college readiness and professional development that affirms master teacher status. Like any organization with a sound business plan, they are seeking to generate revenue. Given their profile, the AP exam and Board Certification are, rightly or wrongly, seen as the seal of approval and worthiness for both a subject area and its teachers. But there are other ways our field can be recognized and valued as an academic area with a rich and valuable body of knowledge and skills that must be taught by experienced and trained professionals.

Here are thoughts and some strategies around that sensibility.

On June 4, the National Core Arts Standards will be released, after three years of work by teams of teacher-writers-including theatre-that represents a collaborative effort across dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. One of the reasons that this work took as long as it did was because it was a challenge for the five disciplines to fully recognize and agree upon the common artistic processes that occurs in all art making. The 11 anchor standard that resulted from this partnership are a validation of ALL the arts-not just music and visual arts-as equally important to a student's well- rounded education and, in turn, the need for certified experts to teach the skills and knowledge articulated in each discipline's standards. The goal of the sequential PreK-12 arts standards themselves is to build towards an outcome of proficiency in a chosen art path that prepares students for college and career success. Isn't that a goal of all education?    

The collaboration between all the major arts education associations and other key national organizations that make up the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is not only validation, it's a forum for further dialogue and action that can create meaningful change. Among NCCAS's member organizations is the College Board. The Board does not invest time or money into a project without purpose. Some years ago, EdTA persuaded the Board to survey colleges and university theatre programs on their level of interest in an AP theatre exam; while I don't think the survey was particularly robust or reliable, it was hard to ignore how negative the response was, with only a handful of programs saying that they  accept the AP for more than entry level credit, if that (what's  the point of taking an AP course, if it can't be applied as college credit?). But times have changed and I think for the better. I know it's hard to ask for patience regarding the AP, but I am asking for it here-the relationship that EdTA and other arts education organizations have with the College Board and other education organizations is very different today-they know who we are and what we want and, while it is just one block of a larger foundation, I think we will eventually get that AP.

One other point about the new standards themselves: we all know that the most recent elephant in the room of education are the new teacher evaluation models that have been rolled out by districts and states throughout the country. For non-tested subject areas, this has been a dual-edged sword-perhaps it's a good thing not to evaluated on student achievement in subject areas you don't teach; on the other hand, in many places, school-wide test scores account for at least 50 percent of an arts teacher's evaluation. Most states have implemented student learning objective-SLOs-into their evaluation models for all teachers, including theatre and the other arts. Districts want to know what students are learning over a specific period of time and are using the data to measure teacher effectiveness. Embedded into the new standards is something that can help:  Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) demonstrate how valid and reliable standards-based learning in an art form can be measured. The idea is for working educators to use the example MCAs to create their own assessments that align the standards, their curriculum, and the learning needs of their students. The point here is that these assessments confirm that students are learning and that it is a powerful affirmation of the teacher's skill and expertise that rightfully belongs in his or her evaluation portfolio. 

On the issue of Career and Technical Education, if there is any aspect of education that has transformed itself in the 21st century surely it is CTE. The old Voc-Ed model in which training in trades like carpentry, welding, and auto repair was offered to fill a particular need in a very specific geography is no longer how job training in secondary education is done or regarded. CTE fully recognizes that students learn differently and that working is mobile, often done in an virtual environment, and that the skills associated with it are highly marketable. And yes-that includes a growing recognition that theatre is a definable career path, particularly technical theatre. EdTA has made CTE a central part of our advocacy work in the last few years, seeking to educate members on the financial and programmatic opportunities that they can pursue through CTE. States as diverse as Arizona, California, Colorado, Ohio, and New Jersey have all successfully gained recognition, at varying levels, for theatre classes (in some case, for their state Thespian organization itself) as a school or district CTE program.

Finally, regarding National Board Certification, according to the most recent USDOE data, there are approximately 24,000 schools in the United States that feature some sort of theatre activity. We don't know how many of them have trained and certified theatre educators. Some years ago, former EdTA Excutive Director Michael Peitz and I engaged in an extended dialogue with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards leadership around the issue of Board certification for theatre educators. The discussion was cordial, but NBPTS said there simply weren't enough theatre educators to warrant the time and financial commitment to create a certification program. Further, as noted by Leslie Van Leishout in her post, it's questionable as to how many theatre teachers would actually pursue certification-it's an investment of time and money and there is no nationwide consistency as to how that investment would translate into compensation or even stature. But, like the AP, NBPTS certification is certainly another worthwhile key to validation. To get a better sense of what the level of interest is among EdTA membership around National Board Certification, EdTA will launch a survey in the Fall of 2014. 

 

In the meantime, let's keep up the dialogue around these issues. I hope you can all find the time to participate in the launch of the National Core Arts Standards on June 4. If not, the webinar will be archived for later review.



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James Palmarini
Director of Educational Policy
Cincinnati OH
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9.
RE: What to do?
From: Gai Jones
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 22, 2014 7:19 PM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
I knew that Jim's perspective would add value to this discussion. And I do not think that any one is saying that achieving a title or AP would be the ultimate goal for our association. Now that the Standards are unrolling (Thanks to all who devoted 3 years of their time, talent, and expertise.) I know that getting them adopted will be our next big advocacy point.

I see the AP in Theatre and National Board Theatre certification can be an ongoing goal which can involve EdTA, AATE, and ATHE. 

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Gai Jones
Ojai CA
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10.
RE: What to do?
From: Leslie Van Leishout
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 23, 2014 8:15 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
Jim,
Thanks for this terrific post that helps explain so many of the pieces that EdTA is working on to advocate for theatre teachers nationwide.

One add on to what you said about the Model Cornerstone Assessments use in teacher evaluation. It is critical to note that their use will need to done through progress monitoring of student growth over time for the MCA to be of value to administrators as evaluation tools for the teacher. In other words, the teacher will have to do the same or similar MCAs at three different points (or more) throughout the learning term (semester, quarter, year) and chart the data of each student on the specific learning targets (vocal technique for example) to show that the student learning has grown through your teaching of the student. This might be a pre-assessment, an interim, and a final summative assessment. By charting the growth of a classroom full of students as you teach them you are able to demonstrate that the students in your class are learning the essential targets for that class because you are teaching well.

How do you handle all that data and do the charting? There are some practical tips from the article I wrote for Teaching Theatre last Winter that might be of value to you. 

I am excited to see the new standards and MCAs in their final form! Leslie

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Leslie Van Leishout
Theater Education Coordinator
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville IL
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11.
RE: What to do?
From: Ryan Moore
To: Advocacy
Posted: May 23, 2014 11:32 AM
Subject: RE: What to do?
Message:
Can you post a link to the article, Leslie?

Thanks

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Ryan Moore
Ferndale MI
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