National Arts Standards Update: Moving Closer to Artistic Literacy

During a comment period that began in late June, more than 1,500 reviewers commented on the revised Pre-K–8 National Core Standards for Music Education – with more than 3,000 individuals commenting on all the arts. That level of participation demonstrated keen interest in the Standards, which were last revised in 1994.

The draft Pre-K–8 music standards are the work of the National Coalition for Core Art Standards (NCCAS), a broad coalition of stakeholders including the National Association for Music Education. (NAfME) is a part of the NCAS leadership.

In August, NCCAS met in Reston, Virginia, to consider the reviews. A group of nationally recognized artist advisors met with the dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts writing teams and NCCAS leaders to review the proposed arts standards.

Mike Blakeslee, NAfME deputy executive director, said that the writing teams and leaders were appreciative of both the number of commenters as well as the thoughtfulness of the comments.

“It is critical to have that input from teachers will use these recommendations in the classroom” Blakeslee said. He said much of the review discussion in August centered on  how detailed or broad the various standards should be going forward.

Blakeslee said, “With the increasing emphasis on core standards as drivers for our education system in areas ranging from curriculum development to teacher assessment, we need music standards that match current and future policy needs. If we don’t revise our standards to meet these new challenges, the arts risk being marginalized in American schools, limiting our young people’s access and opportunity to a full, balanced education.”

Broad Participation in the Process 

NAfME Immediate Past President Scott C. Shuler said music educators participated throughout the process as the Standards were developed.

“NAfME has taken several steps to involve as many music educators as possible in the development and refinement of new National Core Music Standards. When we issued our initial public call for volunteers to help write the standards, hundreds of music educators responded by submitting their applications and resumes, said Shuler, who is also co-chair of the Music Writing Team.

He added, “All of those individuals are currently involved as members of the writing team, members of nine subcommittees writing standards for particular grade levels or secondary course strands, or as confidential reviewers.

Shuler concluded, “We invited members of our SRME research committee to contribute by writing ‘meta-analyses’ (summaries) of the research on child development in music or by serving as “Research Advisors” to assist subcommittees with the development of Cornerstone Assessments. As a result, hundreds of music educators had already contributed to standards development before the first draft standards were posted for public comment in June 2013.”

The experienced members of the Music Writing Team represent a variety of education and arts education backgrounds. Richard Wells, Simsbury Public Schools (retired) and Music Chair for the Connecticut Common Arts Assessment Project, is the other co-chair.

Members of the team also include:

Richard Baker, Louisiana State Department of Education, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Bob Cooper, South Kitsap School District, Port Orchard, Washington
Thomas Dean, Mount Pleasant High School, Newark, Delaware
Armalyn De La O, California State University-San Bernardino and San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Office, San Bernardino, California
Terry Eder, Plano Senior High School, Plano, Texas
Barbara J. Good, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada
Michael Jothen, Towson University, Phoenix, Maryland
Carolynn A. Lindeman, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
Johanna J. Siebert, Webster Schroeder High School, Webster, New York
Robyn Swanson, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky



The Next Steps

Blakeslee said that high school standards are the next focus and tentative plans are to have a draft of Standards for performing ensembles available for review in September. The complete 9–12 Standards tentatively will be offered for review in January.

Follow updates on the Standards and the review process.  Additional information on the Standards’ Conceptual Framework, a Framework Matrix, presentations, and other aspects of the review process can be found at the NCCAS website as well.


Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, August 15, 2013. © National Association for Music Education