Developing an Arts Assessment: Some Selected Strategies
The purpose of this web report is to use the NAEP arts assessment and field test as a case study to explore useful strategies for developing an arts performance assessment. The report presents six selected strategies and provides some tasks used in the 1997 NAEP arts assessment to exemplify the strategies utilized in the creation of a successful assessment.
By exploring the tasks used in the NAEP arts assessment and field test, arts teachers, arts coordinators, and arts policymakers may be able to learn some valuable assessment development techniques.
Why Arts Performance Assessment?
The last several years have seen a growing resolve among educators and policymakers to assure the place of a solid arts education in the nation's schools. One objective of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is "to support systemic education reform by strengthening arts education as an integral part of the elementary school and secondary school curriculum."1 In addition, the legislation aims to "ensure that all students meet challenging content standards and challenging state student academic achievement standards in the arts."
As a means of encountering the world around us, the arts offer a unique combination of intellectual, emotional, imaginative, and physical experiences. The sounds of music, the movements of a dancing body, the colors in a painting and the emotion visible on the face of an actor--all of these are alternative languages. They are opportunities for capturing ideas and feelings, for communicating and for learning, that move well beyond words.
The arts are also important in the context of educational reform that emphasizes "multiple intelligences."2 Some educators believe that children learn in many different ways. The range of artistic experiences offers visual, kinetic, aural, and spatial means of teaching and learning. These opportunities to use different senses and to be imaginative and mentally flexible, can help students develop indispensable skills for a rapidly changing world. The opportunities may account for evidence that arts learning improves student performance in diverse subjects.3
The NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework
Arts educators, curriculum experts, policymakers, and members of the general public translated the enthusiasm for arts education into a blueprint for a quality arts assessment--the NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework. According to the framework, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts are important parts of a full education. At its best, the teaching of the arts emphasizes creating and performing arts as well as studying existing works of art. If this is the way the arts ought to be taught, this is the way the arts should be assessed with tasks that ask students to respond to, create, and perform works of art.
1. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Pub. L. No. 107-110 (H.R. 1).
2. Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
3. Kane, E., and Frankonis, E. (May 1998). Arts education in the new millennium. Education New York, 2(5), 3.
Last updated 3 April 2003 (HM)