Archive for April 13th, 2013


NCAS Are Coming!

April 13, 2013

Help! Help! The standards are coming!!!

This blog post was written by York High School music educator Rob Westerberg. Rob collaborated to create the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) and served on the phase 1 leadership team for the MAAI. Periodically Rob and I discuss the state of Arts Education in Maine and after a recent conversation on the topic this blog post appeared in my inbox. I hope it provides “food for thought” as I have tagged this post and that you are motivated to post a comment with your thoughts. 

The National Core Arts Standards are on their way, and I think the news is being met with every reaction known to the universe… please take this short quiz and lets see where YOU stand on the issue!

The thought of unpacking the new standards in my program makes me: 

a.  feel guilty because I don’t have time to utilize standards right now as it is.

b.  all excited – I can’t wait to see what they came up with! And I think I need to get out more!!!

c.  want to chew on aluminum foil just to take my mind off of making yet ANOTHER revision to my curriculum.

d.  wish I lived in Sweden.

The main reason I am apprehensive about incorporating standards is:

a.  I already work a 60 hour week (for 40 hours of pay) and doing even one more thing is  not going to be possible.

b.  I don’t have time, between my assigned duties of assessing Common Core English Language Arts prompts and playground duty.

c.  My in-laws are coming to visit and the dog just threw up on the sofa.

d.  I don’t know how and/or know what “incorporating standards” really even means.

My favorite ice cream is:

a.  Rocky Road

b.  Mint Chocolate Chip

c.  Chubby Hubby

d.  Is this really a blog post on the national standards?

Listen, here’s how I see the impending arrival of the standards revision going down –

What it DOESN’T mean:

* increased work or expectations

* mandated curriculum – relinquished local control

* a redefinition of arts education

* a list of things my students “must” meet

* taking what we already do and merely dressing it up nicer

* feet-to-the-fire, “meet these or else” expectations

What it DOES mean:

* an honest reflection of essential skills and expectations for our students

* an invaluable guideline for sequential skill development

* language that aligns us with the other 7 core subject areas

* a tool that fosters our growth as arts educators in the 21st century

* a document that embeds the expertise of thousands of colleagues throughout the country

* a foundation provided for evaluating what we do and why we do it

Through the National Standards revision, we have unprecedented opportunity to:

* utilize a powerful advocacy tool, articulating how and why what we do is academic and essential instruction

* show how staffing and student face-time must be increased in our schools to meet academic expectations

* provide a common starting point for educators within and ACROSS school districts to have meaningful, collaborative discussions around curriculum

* provide a common starting point for educators within and ACROSS school districts to have meaningful, collaborative discussions around instruction

* provide a common starting point for educators within and ACROSS school districts to have meaningful, collaborative discussions around assessment

* direct our K-12 conversations so that every school district in Maine has a continuous program of studies that is sequential both in concept and in practice

* expand our knowledge, discover new connections, and continually reevaluate – assisting us in our own process of being lifelong learners

Far be it from me to tell anyone the sky isn’t falling if they’d simply prefer to believe otherwise, but the reason we do what we do in our classrooms day in and day out is to provide the very best we possibly can for our students. The National Core Arts Standards have every promise of being a powerful tool and vehicle that will assist us in doing so. No, your students will not have to meet every standard. Yes, there are standards that you will want to embrace and incorporate. No, no one is going to tell you what to do. Yes, this document will help you articulate what it is you already do in your classroom. No, you are not expected to dissect it on your own. Yes, there will be bountiful opportunities right here in Maine to learn more about it and how to utilize it.

Keep checking in on this blog, and don’t be surprised if this document becomes one of the cooler things you’ve come across in your career, a genuinely helpful resource in your arsenal as a great teacher in this great state. And, no doubt about it, it will have the potential to be transformative if you choose to go down that road too! Please excuse me now, I have to go clean up a mess on my sofa……

Thanks Rob for providing your latest thoughts on the National Core Arts Standards – when you get finished with your sofa, I have some cleaning at my house to do so please stop by…

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