NAfME Leads Collaboration to Help Teachers Direct Music Standards Implementation

This July, all arts education groups are coming together at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) headquarters to benchmark the “model cornerstone assessments” developed for each discipline’s national standards. In this strategic collaboration between higher education and K-12 educators along with business leaders, NAfME is providing the opportunity for teachers to lead in establishing the standards by which student achievement is measured.

Last year, the new National Core Arts Standards were released. NAfME participated in their development and led the way with the new 2014 Music Standards.

national core arts standards

The 2014 Music Standards are all about Music Literacy. The standards, written by teachers, teacher educators, and supervisors, emphasize conceptual understanding in areas that reflect the actual processes in which musicians engage. The standards cultivate a student’s ability to carry out the three Artistic Processes of

  • Creating,
  • Performing, and
  • Responding.

The Standards provide a voluntary guide for instruction that leads students to achieve music literacy. Linked to the standards are both Opportunity to Learn standards and “Model Cornerstone Assessments,” which are currently being tested in the field.

In July, we will gather together about 25 representatives from all the arts groups to develop benchmarks defining student work connected to the standards’ model cornerstone assessments. This follows up on the 140 teachers (in music alone) who volunteered to test and record the assessments over the past months. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has given a grant to facilitate this benchmarking process. Our partners at the NAMM Foundation, along with Sweetwater Music, have donated $30,000 worth of recording devices for teachers to use in establishing the norms by which standards are measured. We are grateful to the generosity of NAMM, Sweetwater, and the NEA for their invaluable contributions.

Teachers have led in this process as they have tested the model cornerstone assessments, leading to the benchmarks, and eventual definition of what is considered “standard.” In this way, they have helped both establish the validity of the assessments and shown how assessment can work within flexibility for their own curricula.

The model cornerstone assessments are curriculum-embedded, and will be essential tools for formative as well as summative assessments.

NAfME is proud to have brought together all of these partners—teachers, research advisors, higher education leaders, and business leaders—to establish the model by which music teachers and their programs are evaluated.

Catherina Hurlburt, Communications Manager, May 21, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (