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Arts|Learning is a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network--a consortium of 35 state alliances across the United States dedicated to arts advocacy and quality arts education for the nation's children.
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AL Logo  Arts Assessment Trainings
  5 & 6

Arts|Learning is pleased to announce the start of a new initiative for Massachusetts and New England arts educators, administrators, and higher education faculty and students!  This is the opportunity to participate in developing and administrating common arts assessments for K-12 students developed by Connecticut.  This project is co-sponsored by the MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (ESE) in partnership with the CT State Department of Education (CTDOE) and the MA Cultural Council (MCC). It is funded by a generous arts education advocacy grant from the Hunt Alternatives Fund.

Already Existing Assessments--Upcoming events:
  Two day-long professional development opportunities on  

  • December 5 (Springfield, MA area) and 
  • December 6 (Boston, MA area)   
  • Click here to register for either of these events. Space is limited, so we urge you to register now! 

These workshops will enable participants to learn about implementing the Connecticut Common Arts Assessment project in your local district or school!  So far tasks have been developed for visual art and music in grades 2, 5, and 8 (see below for expanded development opportunities!) 

Why is arts assessment important? 

  • First, these assessments will help educators know how well their students are learning both the content and skills necessary for advancement in the domains of music and art. 
  • Secondly, all teachers in Massachusetts will have to document that their students are making adequate yearly progress in mastering subject content and skills as part of the newly revised teacher evaluation regulations.  As 83% of Massachusetts teachers are teaching subjects or grade levels not covered by MCAS testing, everyone will have to find valid assessment instruments by 2014 in order to meet this aspect of the new evaluation regulations across the Commonwealth.  Arts|Learning's partnership with ESE and other agencies will help to fill this pressing need. 
  • Finally, the implementation of these assessments will bring parity between the various arts domains and other currently tested subjects.  CT teachers who have implemented these assessments over the past 3 years report that this has leveraged more teaching time or increased resources for their programs from their school administrations.

Our deep appreciation for the generous funding from Hunt Alternatives for this program, as well as in-kind support from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Special thanks to Scott Shuler and the CT Common Arts Assessment team for sharing their invaluable work with the rest of New England! 

CT Arts Assessment Piloting

New Assessment Piloting and Task Development:  In addition to the above trainings for the already existing CT Arts Assessments, the Connecticut State Department of Education is piloting other assessments, and they are beginning to develop new assessments in other grade levels.  If you are interested in participation in piloting or developing new assessments, this is an extraordinary opportunity for a unique and comprehensive professional development experience and for teachers to contribute their expertise.  There are two letters from Scott Shuler, Arts Consultant for the CT DOE, inviting art and music teachers to participate in these opportunities.

  • Click here if you are interested in developing new art tasks.
  • Click here if you are interested in developing new music tasks.

Dance and Drama educators, and all arts educators on the high school level--we know that this current work does not address your needs at this time.  We are currently trying to locate validated assessments in these areas to share with Massachusetts educators.  If you know of any such arts assessments, kindly contact Art|Learning at 508-650-5044 or via email at Thank you!

U.S. Senate Committee Approves Education Reauthorization Bill 

On October 19th & 20th the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee began marking up the Senate version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill (last reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002), co-authored by HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY).  Americans for the Arts lobbied on several of these issues on behalf of its members.


The legislation as amended has several items that are of interest to the arts education sector.

1)Arts education was retained as a "core academic subject" - ensuring that the arts maintains this designation is critical for eligibility to use federal funds locally.  


2)  The term "core academic subject" has been incorporated into far more programs than No Child Left Behind did. It now places core academic subjects, including the arts, as central to extended learning programs, "highly qualified teacher" qualifications, parental engagement programs, advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs, reading or language arts, and STEM initiatives. This is a giant leap from the diminutive position that "core academic subject" held in the No Child Left Behind Act.  


3)  A new program called Extended Learning was created to provide competitive grants to school districts to extend their school day - and the arts and music are among the specified reasons for this new program.


4)  The Well Rounded Education Amendment, described in more detail below, and based on the Obama Administration "Blueprint" proposal, creates a single competitive grant program to provide support to: arts, civics and government, economics, environmental education, financial literacy, foreign languages, geography, health education, history, physical education and social studies. The authorized funding level for this grant program would be $500 million - a set of similar programs currently receives $265 million this year.  This amendment sustains direct federal support for arts education, which would have been terminated otherwise.


5)  Among ten programs of "National Significance" is specific direction for the Department of Education to support "projects that encourage the involvement of persons with disabilities in the arts."


6)  The most substantial changes from current law in the legislation are: it ends Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in favor of a measure of "continuous improvement" and it no longer forces states and local school districts to create evaluation systems in order to receive funding for teacher and principal development. Both of these changes could reduce the "teaching to the test" and reverse the narrowing of the curriculum that has occurred since NCLB was implemented. It might also mean that art and music teachers could be evaluated in their subject area, if a state so chooses, instead of being evaluated on their student's math and reading scores.


The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on this legislation on November 8th. Chairman Harkin hopes to bring this bill to the floor by December where it will undergo further changes through an amendment process. Harkin faces challenges from some Republican Senators who don't like the bill's support for Education Secretary Arne Duncan's competition grant programs Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation, and concerns from some Democrats about the reduction in accountability measures, as mentioned above. There are also challenges in addressing this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has only taken legislative action on a few small items and has shown little interest in considering far-reaching education policy.


Our thanks to Narric Rome, Senior Director of Federal Affairs and Arts Education of the Americans for the Arts, for providing this information.