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Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

1997 Arts Assessment Strategies ReportTake Into Account Practical Constraints That May Limit What Students Can Be Asked to Do

When developing assessment tasks, arts educators must consider issues such as costs, use of time, and the purposes of the assessment. When developing the 1997 NAEP arts assessment, Educational Testing Service staff and the Arts Assessment Development Committee had to confront a range of limitations to create authentic tasks that would be practical to administer and that would allow comparisons to be made among students. This had a considerable influence on the way tasks were developed. The most important limitations had to do with school facilities and limits on the amount of time NAEP could spend in schools.

Limits in school facilities. School facilities vary widely, and it was unwise to expect that all schools would have large, well-equipped spaces in which students could create and perform. Tasks therefore had to be designed to assess meaningful skills in light of available resources. For example:

  • When assessment developers designed the requirements for dance creating and performing tasks, they excluded movements that would require extensive traveling through space, in anticipation of limited space in schools.

  • Because school desk or table space for creating works of visual art was often limited, assessment developers needed to be careful not to overwhelm students with materials. Students were typically given sets of drawing pencils and at least two other kinds of drawing tools, such as charcoal and pastels. However, smaller sets of tools were used. This did not impede students' abilities to work effectively and creatively, but it did save space.

  • Not all schools could offer an easy source of water, nor did all schools wish to tolerate messy assessment tasks. For this reason, no clay was used for visual arts tasks. Plasticene was used, even though plasticene's capabilities are different from those of clay.

Limits on assessment time. Schools' schedules are very full. This meant that assessment tasks had clear time limitations. As much time as possible was devoted to assessment tasks, but some tasks were not undertaken because they would not have been practical.

  • It was not realistic to require students to perform full-length plays or lengthy pieces of music. Instead, students were asked to work with shorter pieces, for example, when doing a cold reading of a theatre script or when performing a piece of music.

  • Some of the knowledge and skills specified in the NAEP arts framework, such as students' abilities to direct theatrical performances, were not assessable within the time frame available in schools. In these circumstances, NAEP relied on written exercises to assess the skill.

  • NAEP was not able to examine student works over time, as in a portfolio assessment. Instead, students were asked to analyze and evaluate their own work with written questions following creating and performing tasks, as in these grade 12 music exercises.

Read more about arts assessment administration.

Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)