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Now that I have just completed my 450 report cards for the first semester
this subject is hot. Keeping in mind the points made in a response
previously by Dr. Perry about the difference between assessing and
evaluating, now I'd like you to consider *reporting* your findings.
I use an assortment of assessments to evaluate my students including
student self-assessments andassessments of my own. The student
self-assessments are based on standardized criteria that I present or that
the students and I set at the beginning of the unitand/or lesson. My
assessments are based on comparing the child's performance present to past.
The content or the "what" we evaluate in these assessments varies from
skill, aesthetic development, creative growth, etc. depending on the task.
Given that when you evaluate children's artwork you are actually evaluating
your own art program
and your own teaching, reporting your findings can be a very self
reflective process! It is at this point in the school year when I start to
doubt the impact that art specialists have within a school environment
under the the constraints of the same old scheduling system (which in my
case is once per week for an hour - I realize I'm lucky compared to some
OK, stay with me here. I do believe that our district has a sound
philosophical base with 5 main goals for it's art program. But I feel the
more thoughtfully you approach the curriculum, assessment and evaluation to
make all 3 as *meaningful* to the child as possible, the more you realize
that with 1 contact hour a week you are set up to fail! You are not doomed
to fail within your curricular area, but rather within the big learning
picture of the whole child. Yes, they receive the nuts and bolts, even
higher level thinking skills through aesthetic scanning processes,
critiquing etc. But they rarely have time to creatively process and
communicate information that has any life shaping impact and/or real world
applications. With that amount of time, we can work with their background
knowledge, build on it, and provide them with experimentation time and
processing time resulting in some sort of product. But what about the
child that is wondering to themselves "Why art? What am I ever going to do
with this information?" If the children can't answer that question, then
no matter how carefully and thoughtfully I create a unit to include every
aspect of my art curriculum from skill development to higher level
thinking- very little of it will make a dent in that child's future.
I basically see my children for 38 hours per year as a maximum possible.
After only 16 hours, I am supposed to have enough data to report wether or
not this child is exceding expectations, meeting them, developing towards
them or floundering. I can safely say that within that rubric system I can
report those results. And so from the therory base university standards I
have done well if most of my kids are meeting expectations at this point in
Can I say that at this point in the year that all of my children have had
the opportunity to use their visual art experiences to learn not only *
about* art and it's relationship to society, culture and civilizations of
past, present and future but *through* art in relationship to society,
culture and civilizations of past, present and future? Sadly, I have to
say that I cannot. I have developed with my fellow art specialists here at
school (music, drama and dance) some interdisciplinary arts units which
begin to provide those real life applications. But without the combined
efforts and CONTACT HOURS of the other 3 specialists I believe that in the
traditional scheduling format of once per week with the students I would
only be doing half of what I could be doing for my children as a visual art
specialist. If you have somehow found common planning time to team up with
the classroom teacher to create consistencey throughout the life of a life
shaping/ real life application - even better. But so far, throughout all
our creative scheduling attempts that has not been possible.
So how did I link this thought to the assessment question and not the
scheduling question? Well, I can understand why an art specialist would be
tempted to let assessments and evaluation processes fall to the wayside in
order to TRY to give the students more time for meatier matter.
And so if you have hung in there throughout this thought process the real
question is: How can we provide real life applications and relavent
learning to our art students within the confines of the traditional
Visual Art Specialist, Hoffman School
2000 Harrison St.
Glenview, Illinois 60025