Monday, February 17, 2014

Art Standards: State Roadmap or National?

Our k-12 Art Department is nearing the end of a year long process, writing our curriculum to align to the new state standards. Yet, the National Art Education Association is rolling out National Standards soon and it would have been nice if they had been adopted at the state level (much like Common Core). So, how do they compare? The state standards are here-
They fit on just a few pages, which I like, and they focus on Enduring Understandings and break into simple progress points:
Enduring Understandings:
Personal Choice and Vision: Students construct and solve problems of personal relevance and interest when expressing themselves through visual art.
Critical and Creative Thinking: Students combine and apply artistic and reasoning skills to imagine, create, realize and refine artworks in conventional and innovative ways.
Authentic Application and Collaboration: Students work individually and in groups to focus ideas and create artworks that address genuine local and global community needs.
Literacy: As consumers, critics and creators, students evaluate and understand artworks and other texts produced in the media forms of the day.

Progress Points:
The student will at the appropriate developmental level:
  1. Recognize that people from various times and cultures create works of art to be looked at, valued and enjoyed.
  2. Explore a range of art concepts and artworks and construct meaning about the works.
  3. Connect making art with individual choice and understanding personal cultural identity.
  4. Produce artworks that express and represent their experiences, imagination and ideas using a range of media including new technologies.
  5. Form and express opinions about artworks and apply critical and creative thinking skills to assess and refine their artworks. 

    Here are the National Art Standards-

    You need to scroll down to page sixteen before you get to them...They are divided into grade bands that do not make sense to me (k-4, 4-8, 9-12 is the only one that makes sense). The standards are subdivided into "Achievement Standards" and "Content Standards". So in grades 5-8, you have one that reads 
    "1. Content Standard: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
    Achievement Standard:
    a. select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in
    communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices
    b. intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of *art media, techniques, and
    processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas"

    I do not really see the value in separating them out. I guess you can see that I am leaning towards the state standards. The national standards, though, are much simpler because there are only SIX CONTENT standards  in each grade band instead of 17->18 state standards (divided into PE, perceiving/knowing, PR, producing/performing, and RE responding/reflecting). The national standards also provide a simple rubric.

    I guess I like the state "progress points" better than I like the national "content standards". For instance, in the national k-4 band, there is "2. Content Standard: Using knowledge of *structures and functions", and I have to admit, without the glossary, I would have had problems interpreting that. For the record, the glossary definition is: "Structures. Means of organizing the components of a work into a cohesive and meaningful whole, such as sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features, and functions of art." (Remember, that is a k-4 content standard!)

    So, this is what I wonder, are we getting too fancy and elitist with national content standards that need a glossary and state standards that are divided into PE/PR/RE? Can we make art and learn about amazing cultures and their artifacts, maybe get some integration and design thinking in there without all the mumbo jumbo?


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