Skip Navigation
Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Developing the Assessment

Developing exercises to meet the requirements of an innovative, performance-based arts assessment in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts poses interesting challenges. In a classroom setting, teachers can evaluate students' arts knowledge and skills on the basis of prolonged observation. Students can

  • ask questions and discuss their ideas and artistic choices with peers and teachers;
  • explore and experiment with different strategies for creating and performing art; and
  • work on their projects over time.

This is not the case in a timed assessment. How, in an assessment context, can students be encouraged to

  • reflect about works of art;
  • communicate ideas and feelings about works of art;
  • take creative, imaginative risks to solve artistic problems; and
  • collaborate in creating and performing?

This is especially challenging when the students who are being assessed have many different arts backgrounds. Teaching approaches to the arts vary widely. Further, because the arts are often not part of standard school curricula, some students may have no background in any of the arts, while others may have quite substantial arts experience, gained either in or outside school.

NAEP used many methods to make assessment tasks accessible to a range of students with varying arts backgrounds. Further, NAEP administered the final version of its theatre assessment to students who had some degree of exposure to theatre classes in school. The challenge of making assessment tasks accessible to a very wide range of students and of locating student samples that can meaningfully perform on an arts assessment are challenges that are somewhat peculiar to NAEP. NAEP is mandated to access representative national samples of students. Classroom teachers and state officials can create arts assessments more specifically tailored to students who have benefited from a state or local or even school-based arts curriculum. However, the approaches NAEP took to making its tasks meaningful to a wide range of students can still hold valuable lessons for those creating arts assessment tasks at the national, state, or local level.

To ensure that all assessment tasks were valid and reliable, a team of arts experts was assembled to work alongside measurement specialists at Educational Testing Service. The resulting Arts Assessment Development Committee was composed of arts classroom teachers, arts curriculum experts, and arts policymakers, many of whom had worked on the NAEP arts framework.

Committee members brought their expertise to creating an arts performance assessment that would be as "authentic" and valid as possible, that is, to creating exercises that would measure important arts knowledge and skills in ways suitable for students at grades 4, 8, and 12.

NEXT: Overview of Strategies for Developing a Successful, Authentic Arts Assessment

Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)