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Lesson Plans


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National Art Education Association (naea)
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 11:27:58 -0500 (EST)

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>From the NAEA President

National Assessment of Educational Progress in Visual Art
About the time when school begins next Fall, 1998, an important event will
occur that will make a significant impact on the field of art education.
This is the release of the 1997 NAEP Arts Report. For a brief period after
release of this report, the news media as well as local, state, and
national educational policy makers will focus on the arts in education.

Will release of this report be a positive occasion for art education? Will
this professional field gain stature and support as a result of the 1997
NAEP Arts Report? The answers to these questions will depend to a large
extent upon the members of this Association, our colleagues, and friends.
Will art educators be prepared to interpret the NAEP report? What do we
need to do to become prepared? How can we shape this event in support of
our mission to provide substantive art education for all children and young
people in America?

What is NAEP?
NAEP is a congressionally mandated program of the National Center for
Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education. The NAEP program
is administered by the Commissioner of Education Statistics, who is
responsible for providing continuing reviews, including validation studies,
on NAEP's conduct and usefulness.

Often called the "Nation's Report Card," the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative,
continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various
subject areas. The assessment has been conducted regularly since 1969, but
only occasionally has it assessed learning in the arts.

What are the NAEP Arts Tests?
Since its inception in 1969, NAEP has assessed numerous academic subjects,
including mathematics, science, reading, writing, world geography, U.S.
history, civics, social studies, and the arts. The last art test was
conducted in 1980.

The 1997 NAEP Arts Assessment included a small-scale operational assessment
(probe) of visual arts, music, and theatre at grade 8 and a field test of
visual arts, music, theatre, and dance at grade 12. The assessment involved
6,000 eighth grade students in public and private schools. National samples
of students were used in art and music; in theatre NAEP assessed targeted
samples of students enrolled in theatre classes, and a dance instructional
program survey was administered to a sample of middle school dance

The framework for the NAEP Arts Assessment is organized according to the
processes of creating, performing/interpreting, and responding. The two
major content components are:

* knowledge and understanding about the arts, including the
personal, historical, cultural, and social contexts for works; and

* perceptual, technical, expressive, and intellectual/reflective

In both the 8th grade test and the field tests for grades 4, 8, and 12, the
assessment consisted of a set of paper and pencil items for the entire
group, completed at the students' desks, and lasting from 60-90 minutes. A
smaller sample of students completed a set of performance exercises lasting
approximately 120 minutes.

Several innovations in NAEP testing practices are associated with the 1997
Arts Assessment. For some items, NAEP integrated content and process,
emphasizing performance tasks that were rigorous, demanding, and authentic.
In music exercises, for example, students improvised compositions based on
a piece of music and evaluated their compositions. For some visual arts
exercises, students responded to questions about a work of art and created
pieces themselves.

The process used to gather student responses for evaluation of arts
learning also departed from previous NAEP assessments. For some items,
student performances were videotaped or audiotaped, and student art work
was photographed or collected intact. Most of the questions used in NAEP
assessment remain secure or confidential to protect the integrity of the
assessment. NAEP ordinarily releases nearly one-third of the questions used
in each assessment, making them available for public use.*

When will the NAEP Art Results be reported?
The NAEP Art Results are scheduled for public release in September, 1998.

How are NAEP test results reported?
National NAEP reports information for the nation and for specific
geographic regions of the country: Northeast, Southeast, Central, and West.
NAEP provides results about subject-matter achievement, instructional
experiences, and school environment, and reports these results for
populations of students (e.g., fourth graders) and subgroups (e.g., male
students or Hispanic students). Because the achievement scales for each
subject are developed independently, it is not possible to compare
achievement level results across school subjects.

This national assessment program collects and reports information related
to academic achievement and contextual background. NAEP is not designed to
report scores for individual students and scores cannot be linked to
students, teachers, or schools. (The program guarantees that all data
related to individual students and families remain confidential). The
national NAEP samples are not designed to support the reporting of accurate
and representative state-level results. Thus, it will not be possible to
make state by state comparisons of results for the Arts Assessment.

Why is NAEP important to art educators?
NAEP makes objective information about student performance available to
policy makers at national and states levels. The focused national reports
provide valuable information for evaluation of conditions and progress of
the nation's education. There is some validity, as well, in the observation
that what is important in education is evaluated. The fact that this NAEP
assessment is dedicated to the arts is a positive indication that art is
valued within the context of general education.

The assessment itself is instructive to art educators in at least two ways.
First, educational assessment is a central component for responsible arts
education. The NAEP tests will provide the field with useful information
regarding assessment of visual arts knowledge and skills, especially as
some actual test items are released for study and use in other assessments.

Second, the NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework was developed
concurrently with the National Standards for the Visual Arts. Although they
differ in some respects, the two documents share a common vision for art
education. The 1997 NAEP Arts Report will provide the first national art
assessment of student achievement consistent with the National Standards.

What will the NAEP results indicate?
To date, NAEP has not communicated exactly how the arts assessment results
will be reported. Apparently the report will not employ the three
achievement levels (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced) as with the 1996
Science Report and the planned 1998 assessments of civics, reading, and

More likely, the 1997 NAEP Arts Report will present student results in
percentile groups, with examples of assessment items correctly answered by
a predominance of the students in each percentile group. A second reporting
method will examine the performance of demographic groups of students
(income levels, gender, types of schools, etc.).

If the 1996 NAEP Science Report is an indicator, student achievement
results might be relatively low. For example, for the national sample of
students at grade 8, 39% scored below the Basic achievement level for
science. A total of 29% scored at the Proficient (26%) or Advanced (3%)
levels. Looking at the scores another way, 71% of 8th grade students scored
below the Proficient level in science.

Low scores on achievement tests are never welcome news to parents,
students, educators, and communities. When low scores are reported, causes
for the problem are often sought. Sometimes schools and teachers are blamed
for low performance by students. How will art educators respond to the NAEP
art results, if scores are low? Are low scores the reflection of
ineffective teaching?

How shall art educators interpret the NAEP results?
Explaining scores is one example of how art educators can interpret NAEP
results for the public. For example, low scores might signal poor teaching,
but other factors must be considered as well, such as the likelihood that
students who were tested for achievement in art actually did not receive
regular art instruction.

The sampling method used by NAEP does not distinguish among students with
various histories of art instruction from grades K-8. This means that, very
likely, numbers of students tested had very little formal instruction in
art, depending on where they went to school. Other students in the sample
might have had excellent regular art instruction consistent with
recommendations of the National Standards. Results of the 1997 NAEP arts
assessment, then, will reflect not only student achievement resulting from
formal instruction in art, but it will also reflect the degree to which art
is a regular part of the school curriculum. Hopefully, we will have the
task of interpreting high as well as low student scores.

Art educators need to be aware of what information the NAEP results provide
and what the information represents. The 1997 NAEP assessment in the visual
arts is based on a sample of only 2,500 students at the eighth grade level.
A field test of 1,200 twelfth grade students also was conducted in 1997.

In contrast, the 1998 NAEP Civics Assessment will include 6,000 students at
4th grade, 8,000 students at 8th grade, and 8,000 students at grade 12. The
1998 Reading Assessment sample includes 32,000 students in 4th, 8th, and
12th grades. The 1979 NAEP Art Assessment included a total of 33,000
students at grades 4, 8, and 12.

Results for the 1997 NAEP Arts Report, then, are based on a relatively
small sample that includes only 8th grade students. The grade 12 visual
arts field test will be reported in a "process report" that does not
provide student achievement data. Field tests for grade 4 and grade 8, will
be reported with the grade 12 process report.

Art educators can interpret results of the 1997 NAEP Arts Report with the
understanding that a complete assessment with a larger national sample for
grades 4, 8, and 12 would have provided much more useful information.

What about the next NAEP Arts Assessment?
The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) determines which school
subjects are assessed and sets the schedule for assessments. According to
the pattern from 1979 to the present, the four subjects regularly assessed
are mathematics, science, reading, and writing. These are the four subjects
that make up the NAEP Long-Term Trend assessments, which constitute a
longitudinal study of student achievement with consistent test items. The
arts have not been included in Long-Term Trend assessments.

Where do the arts figure in plans for future NAEP assessments? During the
17 years between the 1980 and the 1997 NAEP Art tests, assessments have
been conducted and reported for citizenship/social studies, literature,
computer competence, U.S. history (twice), civics (twice), document
literacy, and geography (twice) in addition to the regular assessments of
reading, writing, mathematics, and science. The good news is that the
arts are on the schedule for a full-scale assessment in 2007, establishing
a pattern of a 10 year cycle for NAEP assessment of arts education.

What can art educators do to prepare for the 1997 NAEP Arts Report?
Art educators can focus on positive aspects of the 1997 NAEP Arts Report
and communicate the pluses to their communities:

* The fact that the arts were assessed nationally is a significant
event. This assessment serves to confirm the place of the arts in the
regular curriculum.

* The NAEP tests are based on a solid framework for assessment of
student learning, developed by art educators, and published by the National
Assessment Governing Board (see reference below).

* Release of the NAEP results provides an ideal opportunity to
communicate that there are indeed National Arts Standards for student
learning. Use data from the Status of the States Reports (see NAEA's home
page at to indicate that most states have adopted or
adapted the Standards.

* The NAEP Assessment demonstrates that student learning in art can
be assessed on a large scale. All students, not just a talented few, can
learn about and through art and their progress can be assessed.

* The 1997 NAEP Arts Report will demonstrate that many children
achieve in art, but some don't, possibly because they have not had the
opportunity to learn. All children should receive regular instruction by
qualified art teachers.

A number of actions and strategies are available for art educators to call
attention to and gain support for their art programs:

* Keep in touch with your state art education association. Your
state president regularly receives information from the NAEA organization
(Regional Vice-Presidents, Division Directors, Reston office, etc.).

* Watch for publications from NAEA on this topic, such as the NAEA
News, Art Education, NAEA Advisorys, and other mailings from your national
professional organization.

* Inform and prepare your art education colleagues about the 1997
NAEP Arts Report and do the same for community members who might become
your advocates when the report is released.

* Know the status of art education in your state, e.g., art
requirements, budget for art education, requirements for art instruction at
elementary, middle, and high school levels, art requirements for
graduation, instruction by art specialists, and so forth.

* Use this opportunity to describe art learning in your program
(local, district, state) and promote the need for assessment of student
progress and program effectiveness.

* Use documents such as the Arts Education Assessment Framework,
and the National Standards for the Visual Arts in your communications.

* Alert administrators, school boards, parent organizations, and
others to the anticipated release of the 1997 NAEP Arts Report. Assist them
with information they will need to respond to the results.

* Hold a press conference in a school with an outstanding art
program, and show examples of student learning, student work, and
assessment strategies.

* Communicate and collaborate with colleagues in other arts
organizations within the state, such as arts councils, education
departments, colleges and universities with art education programs, and
educators in music, theatre, and dance. Send a unified message on the
importance of the arts in education.

* Reinforce the place of art in the regular curriculum for all
students as an essential component for general education. Every child
should receive a balanced, sequential, and high quality program of
instruction in the arts taught by qualified art, music, theatre, and dance
teachers and supported by artists and arts organizations.

If we make the effort to prepare in advance of the 1997 NAEP Arts Report,
we might take advantage of opportunities to communicate with a wide
audience of citizens willing to support and improve art education. NAEA
will continue to publish ideas and strategies that relate to the 1997 NAEP
Arts Report.

*Sample questions can be obtained from NCES, NAEP Released Exercises, 555
New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20208-5653.

Consortium of National Arts Education Association (1994). National
Standards for Arts Education: Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts. Reston
VA: Music Educators National Conference.

Council of Chief State School Officers (1998). The 1997 NAEP in Arts
Education. Washington DC: Two-page flyer published by CCSSO.

National Art Education Association (November 1997). National Assessment
Gears Up for Reporting Arts Results, press release. Reston VA: NAEA.

National Assessment Governing Board (1994). Arts Education Assessment
Framework, pre-publication edition. Washington DC: U.S. Department of

National Assessment Governing Board (1997). What Do Students Know?: 1996
NAEP Science Results for 4th, 8th, & 12th Graders. Washington DC: U.S.
Department of Education.

National Center for Education Statistics (1997). The NAEP Guide: A
Description of the Content and Methods of the 1997 and 1998 Assessments.
Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Resources from NAEA

A Priority for Reaching High Standards
An overview of the importance of standards, how they relate to state
frameworks and district curriculum guides. Also includes extensive Goals
2000 and visual arts resources. 8 1/2" x 11." 11 pgs. Bulk copies are
available, while supplies last, from NAEA at $1.00 per copy, plus shipping
and handling.

Art Content and Student Learning in Art Education
Describes the nature of art content and substantive student learning. Also
includes examples of content and checklists for short and long range
planning. 8 1/2" x 11." 10 pgs. Bulk copies are available, while
supplies last, from NAEA at $1.00 per copy, plus shipping and handling.

A Look at Performance Assessment for Art Education
Excerpts from The ERIC Review, includes key features of performance
assessment, examples of assessment techniques, and steps for designing
performance-based assessments. 8 1/2" x 11." 15 pgs. Bulk copies are
available, while supplies last, from NAEA at $1.00 per copy, plus shipping
and handling.

NAEP Visual Arts Assessment and Exercise Specifications
Includes excerpts for the visual arts from the NAEP specifications.
Includes specifications used to develop the NAEP assessment, sample
rubrics, and example assessment exercises. 8 1/2" x 11." 71 pgs. Bulk
copies are available, while supplies last, from NAEA at $2.00 per copy,
plus shipping and handling.

No. 216 The National Visual Arts Standards
Jeanne Rollins, Chair. Prepared in response to the Goals 2000: Educate
America Act, lists what every student should know and do in the visual
arts. Includes six content standards K-12. Standards are organized K-4,
5-8, and 9-12. These standards are essential for all art educators as the
framework upon which to design art curricula and instruction for all grade
levels, as well as for art teacher preparation programs. Officially
presented to the Secretary of Education in 1994. A cardinal resource for
curriculum and framework development. 36 pgs. {1994} ISBN 0-937652-65-2

No. 409 Purposes, Principles, and Standards For School Art Programs
This newly revised publication is directed toward the promotion and
recognition of educationally sound visual art programs in elementary,
middle/junior, and high schools. It is designed as a self-assessment
evaluation of the seven art education program components: Organization,
Curriculum, Personnel, Scheduling, Facilities, Materials/Equipment, and
Budgets. A nomination form and self-assessment checklist for the Standards
Award is included. 8 1/2" x 11". 33 pgs. {1994} ISBN 0-937652-83-0

No. 204 Design Standards for School Art Facilities
Mac Arthur Goodwin, Editor. This visual resource from NAEA includes over
60 photos and floor plan drawings of specialized art studio rooms. The
guide contains Art Room Planning in elementary, middle/junior, and senior
high schools; General Specifications (space, lighting, safety, computers);
and Specialized Art Rooms (ceramics, kiln room, printmaking, technology)
and much, much more. Also included are numerous resources for state and
federal agencies, manufacturers, organizations, and others that keep
current on specifications, codes, health hazard regulations, and
legislation. Includes application forms for Art Facilities Award 8 1/2" x
34 pgs. {1993} ISBN 0-937652-66-0 $14.00

No. 248 Elementary Art Programs: A Guide for Administrators
A landmark volume from the NAEA Elementary Division that addresses
fundamental issues central to the administration of elementary art
education in American schools. It answers questions about key standards
concerning content, materials, instruction, and more. This guide also
addresses 16 fundamental questions school administrators should ask about
elementary art programs and is an important policy resource. It is also
designed to provide suggestions on organizing, implementing, and assessing
elementary art programs. Use with parents and community groups. 24 pgs.
{1992} ISBN 0-937652-58-X $10.00

No. 250 School Art Programs: A Guide for School Board Members and
Guidelines for school administrators concerning what students should learn
in art; components of the art program; curriculum and instruction
essential; professional development; scheduling, facilities, and
equipment/materials; evaluation; staffing; budgeting; and related issues.
Can be utilized as an excellent policy and advocacy resource.
28 pgs. {1992} ISBN 0-937652-64-4 $10.00

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About NAEA-The National Art Education Association is the world's largest
professional art education association and a leader in educational
research, policy, and practice for art education. NAEA's mission is to
advance art education through professional development, service,
advancement of knowledge, and leadership. Membership includes elementary
and secondary art teachers, artists, administrators, museum educators, arts
council staff, and university professors from throughout the United States
and several foreign countries. It also includes publishers, manufacturers
and suppliers of art materials, parents, students, retired art educators,
and others concerned about quality art education in our schools.