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A new arts curriculum for K-12 students
By Julia Lee, Fine Arts Coordinator, WV Department of Education
New content standards
A newly refined fine arts curriculum for West Virginia public schools has been drafted to eventually replace our state’s current Instructional Goals and Objectives. The IGOs are to give way to Content Standards and Objectives (CSOs) by the opening of the 2003-2004 school year. The new curriculum, at this writing, has yet to receive state board approval for public comment.
Writing committees for dance, music, theater and visual art concluded work on the refinement process just in time for early drafts of the CSOs to be proofed, formatted, printed and distributed to teachers who attended the WV Fine Arts Teachers Academy at West Liberty State College in mid-July. Additional early drafts were made available to fine arts teachers who attended the Governor’s Summer Institute at Flatwoods later in July.
The content standards themselves equate to curriculum while the objectives equate to instruction. (Sometimes called “benchmarks” in other states, the sets of objectives are incremental steps toward meeting their respective content standards.) The newest feature is the introduction of the “performance descriptor,” which is an assessment piece for the individual classroom teacher to use. Sets of performance descriptors are written for each standard. Performance descriptors are narrative descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do under each standard at the end of the course. Currently there are three levels of performance descriptors written for each standard. They are: “distinguished,” “mastery,” and “partial mastery.” However, the performance descriptors will be expanded over the next few months to five different levels: “distinguished,” “above mastery,” “mastery,” “partial mastery,” and “novice.”
Once the State Board of Education officially sends out the newly refined fine arts curriculum for public comment, it will be posted on the WV Department of Education website as part of Policy 2520 in the gray box on the “State Board Policies” page. The address is http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/ The various sections will be numbered as follows:
Dance: Policy 2520.9
Comment sections are found at the end of the entire policy. Once Policy 2520 is posted, please take the time to review it and send in your comments.
Assessment study’s final project
As many of you know, the WV Department of Education’s Arts Assessment Feasibility Study has been a two-year study to develop a plan for a statewide assessment of student achievement in dance, music, theater and visual art in West Virginia’s K-12 schools. The study was funded, in part, by a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Based on the findings of the six forums held statewide in October and November of 2001, the project’s steering committee has concluded that our state’s fine arts teachers need more professional development in the area of assessment before they can comfortably proceed with a statewide arts assessment implementation. Results of the feasibility study also showed that there is such a great disparity in West Virginia schools’ fine arts programs that an immediately planned statewide arts assessment might not accurately or fairly reflect an overall picture of what WV fine arts students know and are able to do.
In the meantime, however, since the newly refined curriculum has introduced the use of the performance descriptors, these narrative descriptions of student knowledge and skills can provide a possible foundation for developing any future statewide arts assessment. Many teachers started learning about the performance descriptors for the first time this summer; but additional professional development on how to use performance descriptors is needed.
Therefore, special professional development on arts assessment is proposed for a representative cadre of fine arts educators from around the state. This cadre of educators would closely examine, discuss and provide practical strategies for classroom teachers on implementing West Virginia’s newly written performance descriptors. The cadre of teachers would then be recommended as peer consultants who could, in turn, provide professional development on assessment to other teachers in their areas of our state. For updates on the assessment project, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supercilious attitudes in commercials
A current television car commercial reveals a narrow, sterile attitude toward spontaneous participation in a musical experience. I’m bothered by the attitude.
It seems a wealthy owner of a new fancy car gets caught up in the music he hears coming from the second floor window of a building near where he is temporarily parked. There, on the second floor, the camera shows us the band. (By the way, the music we hear in the commercial could not entirely come from the instrumentation we see in that room; but let’s overlook that for a more significant point.)
The man in the new car begins to put into motion the automobile’s special features in sync with the band. He is caught up, for the moment, in the music. Granted, the man’s actions may appear to be frivolous showing off. Granted, he is an amateur. But he has, after all, involved himself in a brief, pleasant aesthetic experience of sorts.
Suddenly, his female companion who has been on a cappuccino run across the street cuts the man short from moving his car to the music. She pokes her head in the driver’s window and remarks, “Well! Aren’t we being grown up today!” (It was evidently immature of him to be carried away participating in the musical experience with his car.) The commercial ends with a supercilious punctuation: “There are those who travel. Then there are those who travel well.” I like to think his next investment will be in a musical instrument. Then he can travel well.