I am not missing. And NAEP.

The 2008 NAEP arts data has been released. The assessment was given last year to eighth graders in music and visual arts. I’m going to repost a blog from the ArtsInPA blog with my comments at the bottom.

Thoughts on the data:
Eileen Weiser – classical pianist, member of the National Assessment Governing Board
Assessing the arts is very costly. Most children depend on K-12 education for basic arts skills. If a subject isn’t assessed, it may not be valued. If it’s not valued, it may not be taught. We need a more substantive assessment of the arts. Only about 20% of students knew that “p” stands for piano. It’s difficult to project how arts education might be affected by budget cuts. What amount and quality of education is needed to maintain our culture? The arts provide meaning to learning. The Governing Board does not define what constitutes a comprehensive education. The National Endowment and other entities need to step up to fund assessment in all 4 arts disciplines.

Patrice Walker-Powell, acting chair of the National Endowment for the Arts
Issues of concern – the differences in scores based on SES, geographic location, race, gender. We must be attentive about the application of resources across all groups. 77% of schools in the assessment employ a full time specialist in either visual arts or music. If most schools have arts specialists, why are students not achieving proficiency? Are we providing enough training for teachers? Are we providing curriculum? The percentage of students going to a museum or gallery as a school activity declined significantly. What are the contributing factors? The NEA is releasing a study today about adult participation in arts activities.

Questions from the press and audience:
Libby Quade, AP to Patrice Walker-Powell: What has been the trend in arts education over the last 30 or 40 years? All schools are under duress. State arts agencies are seeing declining funds. There is tremendous support nationally for artists, but people are making hard decisions.

Jackie Prescott, Washington Post to Eileen Weiser: How would you describe the effect of the economy on the results? Support for the arts in general is declining. Artists who are working in schools are not working as much. Students aren’t going on field trips because buses aren’t available. Ms. Walker-Powell: The arts are not being singled out more than any other field. Stuart Kerachsky: The NAEP looks mostly at proficiency in the arts. A fast response survey will be released soon that follows up on the specifics of arts education in schools (number of teachers, classes, etc.).

Dear Eileen Weiser:
It doesn’t alarm me that only 20% of students know that p stands for “piano.” I think you and I probably have different ideas about the essential content of music education that stem from our different ideas about the role of arts education in schools.

Dear Patrice Walker-Powell:
I don’t have answers to your questions, but the fact that Eileen and I don’t agree on what is essential in arts education is probably the root of many of these issues. Neither art nor music education have agreed on essential aspects of their disciplines. Art ed is getting close, but unfortunately, the research is finding that the graduates of (good) teacher ed programs are not teaching in the model they learned in their teacher ed program. Teaching with a new (critical, postmodern, etc.) perspective is at odds with the climate of schools. What arts education offers K-12 students is hard to assess, but I’m not certain we are teaching those things nor does the NAEP assess the learning in which we should be the most interested.

Leslie Gates