Our process in crafting the ARTS ACHIEVE arts performance assessments began with the New York City arts learning standards, the Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, PreK-12 in dance, music, theater and visual arts. All the Blueprints feature the same five strands of learning:
- Arts Making
- Arts Literacy
- Making Connections
- Community & Cultural Resources
- Careers & Lifelong Learning
Which standards in each of these learning strands would be most readily measurable in a two-hour time period? What types of tasks would best reveal arts learning in engaging and age-appropriate activities? What were our non-negotiable priorities? Each discipline’s assessment writing team contemplated these questions.
The assessments that evolved share several broad domains and also display some discipline-specific differences, authentically reflecting the artistic processes of each art form. All four assessments contain written and artistic tasks, both of which are known as “Performance Tasks.” Written performance tasks include multiple choice, short answer, and extended writing items. Artistic performance tasks vary with different art forms. The weighting given to each performance task also varies between the art forms. Multiple choice and short answer questions are scored correct or incorrect, but most of the arts making tasks and extended written responses are rubric-scored. Criteria in the rubrics reflect the Blueprint and Common Core Capacities (ELA and Math). These rubrics were further refined as the study progressed.
Some arts assessments ask students to create art in response to a non-arts stimulus. In ARTS ACHIEVE, there was universal consensus that these assessments should be wrapped around authentic works of art – choreography, musical compositions, performances of plays, and visual art works. This use of both professional masterworks and student-produced artworks as prompts is a hallmark of this project.