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The Arts

The following process was used to identify standards and benchmarks for the arts:

Identification of Significant Reports

Four reports were identified as important for representing current thinking on knowledge and skills in the arts: The National Standards for Arts Education (1994) developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, the NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework (NAEP, 1994), the Visual and Performing Arts Framework for California Public Schools: K12 (California Department of Education, 1989), and The School Music Program: Description and Standards (1986) from the Music Educators National Conference. Two curriculum documents from the International Baccalaureate Organization were consulted for citations: Middle years programme: Arts (1995a) and Art/Design (1996a).

Selection of the Reference Document

The National Standards for Arts Education was selected as the reference document for constructing standards in the arts. The developers of the document represented a consortium of arts educators in music, theatre, the visual arts, and dance. The work provides content standards in each arts area, with "achievement standards" described for three levels: K4, 58, and 912.

Identification of Standards and Benchmarks

At the standard level, most statements in the national document were retained with some revision to reflect the more content-oriented focus of this model. Additionally, one standard, Art Connections, was formed by combining very similar ideas from across the arts areas, namely, content that addressed the connections among various art forms and other disciplines.

At the benchmark level, there were some aspects in which the material for the arts standards was consistently revised and adapted to fit the model used in this study. This was the case when "achievement standards" in the national document were rewritten to describe specific knowledge and/or skill. For example, under the visual arts content standard "Using knowledge of structures and functions," one 8th-grade achievement standard is:

a. [Students] generalize about the effects of visual structures and functions and reflect upon these effects in their own work (p. 50)

Because content standards are the focus of this study, material such as the example above was rewritten to describe the knowledge a student should have, rather than to describe an activity that might be used to demonstrate achievement of that knowledge. Additionally, detailed information was added to the benchmark when it was available; primary sources were the NAEP arts framework and a glossary provided in the National Standards. Thus, the benchmark was rewritten as:

BD (AE,50;CI,95-96;IAI,5;IMI,11;NE,110)

  • Knows some of the effects of various visual structures (e.g., design elements such as line, color, shape; principles such as repetition, rhythm, balance) and functions of art
For the example analyzed here, it should be noted that another standard in the visual arts, "Understands the characteristics and merits of one's own artwork and the artwork of others," separately addresses that aspect of the activity that concerns the students' review of their own works.

Integration of Information from Other Documents

As demonstrated above, supplementary documents were used to provide detail (which was the primary use of the NAEP framework) and to provide page references to a well-known curriculum framework; in this case, the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework. Additionally, material from The School Music Program, produced by the Music Educators National Conference, was used to provide benchmarks at K2 in the section on music. In the other arts areas, no documents were found suitable to address this need; consequently, areas other than music are presented at levels found in the arts standards document: K4, 58, and 912. The International Baccalaureate arts documents, Middle Years: Arts and Art/Design, were cited wherever similar knowledge and skills were addressed in those documents and the benchmarks in this report.