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Final Version of Common Arts Standards Released

This week, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards released the final version of its voluntary national standards in dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts—and one coalition official said he expects nearly every state in the country to adopt them.

The preK-12 standards, which were developed by a variety of arts-focused groups and educators and went through several periods of public reviewemphasize four artistic processes in each arts discipline: creating, performing, responding, and connecting. 

James Palmarini, director of educational policy for the Educational Theatre Association and a member of the NCCAS leadership, said in an interview the group is now moving into the adoption phase and expects "quick wins in four to five states." While he wouldn't name the states, he said they were likely to adopt "within the year."

The first national arts standards were published in 1994. "In the same way nearly every state in the country adopted the '94 arts standards, nearly every state in the country will adopt these National Core Arts Standards, and in the next three to five years," said Palmarini.

The standards are housed on a new website that is designed to let teachers create their own customized handbooks based on the grade-levels and subject they teach. For each arts discipline, there is a "standards at a glance" page. 

The website also has "model cornerstone assessments" that show how students can demonstrate mastery of particular skills. NCCAS groups will be piloting those assessments in the fall and, eventually, will add examples of student work, said Palmarini. 

In reviewing the new standards, I found the site a bit difficult to navigate—and for now there's no way to see all the disciplines' standards in one place (though it's possible I'm one of the few people trying to do this). Palmarini noted that the site is still in "beta-testing mode" and "will get better."

The new standards are designed to complement the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and math. They are also more "robust and there are more of them" than the previous standards, said Palmarini. 

You can download the Powerpoint used to explain the initiative during the June 4 launch here

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