Music Standards Down the Track

It’s true: There’s a movement to recreate the National Standards for the Arts, including music.

According to Deborah Hansen, immediate past president of the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE), this work is the brainchild of directors of arts at state departments of education.

SEADAE has sponsored a coalition that includes the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), the Educational Theatre Association (ETA), the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE), and the National Art Education Association (NAEA). The College Board and the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) joined the ranks to provide a firm foundation of research and cultural context.

Says Hansen, “Sometimes it’s better not to be first. In the current climate of Common Core State Standards and with release of the science standards looming, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is committed to a process that will describe these voluntary learning targets. Using technology and social media, the Coalition has sought to make the development process efficient and transparent. The standards themselves will exist in a virtual format, making future revisions timely and continuous.”

Media may become a possible fifth arts discipline, Hansen says. Frameworks, format, and cognitive levels of learning are among the key discussions that will be addressed by the writing teams under the leadership of former Kentucky arts supervisor Phillip Shepherd. The first draft of standards is scheduled for early summer of 2012. The goal is to have the first “evergreen” version out by fall 2012.

Hansen concludes, “Looking more like Amtrak’s high-speed Acela than a locomotive, this effort will reconceptualize learning in the arts. The cars are ready on the track. The tickets have been secured, and the travelers are finding their places. This train is leaving the station—don’t find yourself or your students left on the platform!”

For updates, The College Board research studies, and opportunities to contribute to this effort, please visit the NCCAS website.

Adapted from a January 2012 Teaching Music “At Large” column by Deborah Hansen, immediate past president, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE).

Ella Wilcox, January 12, 2012, © National Association for Music Education (