Kentucky MEA Members Navigate Legislative Waters Seeking Support for Music Education Rubric

In March 2009, Kentucky’s General Assembly passed a bill to create an Arts and Humanities Program review that will include a new assessment and accountability model for the state’s education. Members of the Kentucky Music Educators Association are working with Kentucky legislators to ensure that the program includes the arts.

According to Tanya Bromley, who is heading up this effort for KMEA, said association members are working with state legislators, starting on the committee level, to ensure the concerns of music educators are considered as final language is drafted.

“You have to start small, get to know the legislators, the committees they serve on. It has been a learning process for us as well as them,” says Bromley, who teaches at Morehead (Kentucky) State University.

For starters, KMEA wants a rubric that music teachers can follow. A rubric defines how a lesson is taught if it is done correctly. It also helps students understand what is expected of them and gives teachers a way to assess their work.

Bromley says that some music teachers argue against such assessments, but she suggests a different viewpoint is more to the point. “If you don’t have assessments, you have no way of proving how valuable a subject like music is,” Bromley explains. “We want to demonstrate that music should be assessed. We assess the work of our students all the time.”

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)’s ongoing Arts and Humanities Program Review also aims to:

• Improve teaching and learning for all students in all programs
• Allow equal access to all students the skills they need to have to be productive citizens
• Allow students to demonstrate their understanding of subject matter beyond paper and pencil tests.

Draft language in the program review notes that “All students have access to a rigorous arts curriculum that is aligned to local, state, and national arts standards.”

Generating Support

Bromley said Kentucky arts group like KMEA do have allies. In the May issue of the Kentucky
Department of Education’s Arts and Humanities News, vice-chair Dorie Combs said, “…We are seeing an increase in service jobs and in the creative area. We have got to address this in what we do with our students and how we prepare them.”

Combs added that the arts help students develop skills like critical thinking and said students will only get better if they are assessed so they can learn to improve.

MENC President Scott C. Shuler met recently with KMEA members and Terry Holliday, Kentucky commissioner of education, and discussed the importance of developing an arts rubric. Shuler and Holliday shared a keynote address and later discussed the arts rubric and the statewide accountability system for music and other arts.

Holliday was named to his current post in 2009. Earlier in his career, he was assistant principal and director of instrumental music, and a band director in South Carolina.

In a recent edition of Arts and Humanities News, Holliday wrote, “KDE remains committed to high-quality arts education for every student in Kentucky. Schools and districts are reminded that Kentucky recognizes the arts & humanities as core academic subjects and fully expects all schools and districts to actively engage all students in robust, authentic arts creativity, products and performances, and responses.

“Kentucky’s new accountability model will include an arts & humanities Program Review, which is designed to promote strong arts & humanities programs to ensure students receive a complete,
well-rounded educational experience,” he concluded.

Bromley says, “We’ve learned a lot through this process, and will we continue to work with legislators as language [in the Arts and Humanities Program Review] develops.”

Overview of KDEA Arts Education regulations and program review

Kentucky Music Educators Association

Roz Fehr, May 20, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education