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Music is Not for Insects

Thursday, January 24, 2008

State Mandated Music Assessments- HELP!

Here in the state of Washington, we are supposed to be implementing Classroom Based Performance Assessments in the Arts, including music.
I won't bore you with all the details, but the process involves video taping students performing various "sets" and then scoring each child's video according to a rubric that is supposed to be aligned to specific state Essential Academic Learning Requirements, or EALRS. (Click here for an overview of the music CBPA's by grade level).

Since I am leading a training on this for teachers, I could use your insight on this touchy subject...

Initial reactions to this state mandated testing from teachers in my district have ranged from indifference to hostility-

"How can we test for music? Are they nuts?"

"We barely have time to teach our students as it is...and now they want us to test?"

"No one is going to care about these scores; what difference will it make?"

"I'm not doing it!"

"I think testing is a bad way to justify the arts...."

"What difference will this make?"

This really surprised me. My initial reaction to all this was, "Finally the legislature sees enough value in the arts to have them assessed for all students."

I often joke with my colleagues that after the first round of dismal arts scores are made available I envision a press conference where the Governor says: "Look at these test scores for the Arts; it's obvious our students need more resources for arts education...I am proposing we pass a bill for increased spending in the arts for all WA State students." End dream sequence.

I think testing for the arts fundamentally says that all the arts are essential for every student's education. It says we no longer need to justify arts education based on how it supports other disciplines...Art for Arts Sake!

I am wrong about this?
What's your take on assessment for music?
Does your state have a mandated arts assessment program?

I'd be grateful for your input. Please add to this conversation by commenting below.