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Lesson Plans


RE: National Standards and Assessment

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sears, Ellen (ESears.us)
Mon, 2 Nov 1998 08:27:37 -0500


In Kentucky, the Arts and Humanities have been assessed on the state level
(grades 5, 8 and 11) for several years. I have a core content (based on the
national standards) that I have to teach, a program of studies, gather
writing samples, using open response questions... and so on.

Stressful - yes in the beginning. Worth it? Yes! Because the arts are
assessed at the state level (and there used to be sanctions if improvement
wasn't shown) many schools are emphasizing the arts. Has it hindered my
teaching. Not in the least. After several years of the core content in a
state of flux (try teaching an outdated one, getting a new one in November,
but not seeing some kids again....) we have had one that is somewhat
constant.

What were some of my concerns? I thought I couldn't teach the art I loved.
For instance -I always did Calder with the younger kids - but then he showed
up on the grade 11 core content. But - the youngers did have African art -
so we study galimotos and move to Calder's sculptures that move - and then
to mobiles. And just because I teach art doesn't mean that other subjects
don't come into play. The youngers may also study simple machines, cam
shafts and so on... in Science. What I do only strengthens that. What
other teachers do only strengthens what I do. and - the core content is
just that - the core... there is other teaching going on in the classroom.

If the entire school is accountable for test outcomes (in Kentucky, the
tests don't really assess the student, but evaluate the school... but that's
another story...) then the entire school has a responsibility to teach all.
(Okay ideal world!) but we are getting there.

What has it meant for art in my school? Elementary classes had gone from 60
minutes to 40. Middle school students had only 6 weeks of art (but 18 of
PE... but that's a different story), now we have another part time art
teacher. Class times for elementary has been increased to 60 minutes.
Middle school students have 12 weeks. I have time in my schedule (3 hours a
week) to use a resource time for all teachers, all subjects.

Would any of this happened if we weren't in trouble because of our testing?
I really don't think so.

I only know of my school and the benefit of state/national standards - but I
have heard of many examples across the state. It hasn't been an easy
process.

Ellen