Fine Arts & The K-12 Essay


The relationships among giftedness, talent development, and creativity are challenging areas of research. Because researchers lack consensus about what constitutes creativity itself, progress in developing operational definitions of "creativity" has been slow (Clark & Zimmerman, 1992-page 344; Csikzentmihalyi, 1996; Hunsaker & Callahan, 1995-page 2). Although some scholars agree that creative achievement is reflected in the production of useful, new ideas or products that result from defining a problem and solving it in a novel way (Hunsaker & Callahan, 1995-page 98; McPherson, 1997-page 201; Mumford, Wakefield, 1992), others distinguish between expert creative acts and those of novices. Csikszentmihalyi (1988, 1996), Feldman (1982), and Winner and Martino (1993) referred to creativity as inventiveness within a domain of knowledge, where a creative individual's work is recognized as a significant addition to that domain, by the social institutions (or field) that monitor the domain. No talented children, they claim, have "effected reorganization of a domain of knowledge" (p. 253). If we apply these criteria to student art, it would be rare that a student would create a work of art that is original, appropriate, and recognized by members of a disciplinary field. Fineberg (1997) has shown that numerous modernist artists appropriated motifs, images, and spatial organization from drawings and paintings of young children that these artists themselves collected. This appropriation does not, however, confer on the works of the children the title of "creative innovators" any more than the artisans who created the urinal used in Duchamp's "Fountain" were path; breaking creative sculptors.

Educators have suggested a number of strategies for developing curricula in different subjects that support creativity and talent development. Some of these suggestions include having students: (a) practice problem; finding as well as problem; solving techniques; (b) use unfamiliar materials that elicit more novel thinking and lead to new ideas, (c) experience convergent (structured) and divergent (unstructured) tasks because they need knowledge and information for skill building and open; ended tasks for self; expression; (d) rely on both visual and verbal materials; (e) be exposed to curricula with open; ended outcomes that allow for unforeseen results; (f) follow their own interests and work in groups, as well as independently; (g) choose environments that support their talents and creativity; and (h) encounter a wide range of tasks intended to encourage, reinforce, and enhance emerging talents (Feldhusen, 1995; Mumford et al., 1994; Runco, 1993; Runco & Nemiro, 1993; Sternberg & Williams, 1996).

C. What are the economic, legal, and ethical issues, implications and ramifications of a plan as related to staff and a diverse student body?

Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card, " has been the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas, including reading, mathematics, science, the arts, writing, U.S. history, civics, and geography. Under the current structure, the Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out NAEP projects. The National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the Secretary of Education, but independent of the department, governs the program. NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools. Instead, the test offers results regarding subject matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for selected national populations of students (e.g., fourth; graders) and subgroups of those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students).

The NAEP 1997 arts assessment was the result of a multi; year process, described briefly in this volume (Myford & Sims; Gunzenhauser, 2002). Myford and Sims; Gunzenhauser discuss the collaboration among arts educators, artists, policymakers, and members of the public in the creation of the voluntary National Standards for Arts Education and the 1997 NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework. This collaboration resulted in two documents that share a set of ideas, although the standards describe what ought to be taught in the arts, and the framework describes what and how to assess. Both documents assume that an arts education is not just for the talented or the privileged, but is instead an integral part of education. As stated in the framework:

Throughout their lives, [children] will draw from artistic experience and knowledge as a means of understanding what happens both inside and outside their own skin, just as they use mathematical, scientific, historical,...


The expectation is not that they will become talented artists. What is expected is that they will have experienced enough of the discipline, the challenge, the joy of creating in different art forms to intimately understand the human significance of dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts. (NAGB, 1994, p. 1)
The notion that an arts education is not meant primarily to create talented artists should not be taken to mean that arts knowledge and skills are simple and easily attainable. Like other disciplines, dance, music, theater, and visual arts can be extremely challenging, and any assessment of arts knowledge and skills ought to elicit high levels of performance, not just minimum competency. Further, the standards and framework express the following principle: If a sequential and rigorous arts education is a crucial part of the curriculum, and such an education must emphasize creating, performing, studying and analyzing works of art, then any arts assessment ought to include chances for students to analyze, critique, and formulate value judgments about works of art, as well as to create and perform works of art (Myford & Sims; Gunzenhauser, 2002).

Given these ambitions for a rigorous arts assessment, the tension between the depth and continuity of what can happen in an arts classroom and what can be managed in a large; scale arts assessment is a central concern of the arts assessment framework. In a classroom setting, teachers can evaluate students' arts knowledge and skills on the basis of prolonged observation. Students can ask questions and discuss artworks, their ideas, and artistic choices with peers and teachers; explore and experiment with different strategies for creating; and work on their projects over time. This is not the case in a drop; in timed assessment, for which students have had no specific preparation and that must be completed within a short period on a single day.

The task for those who created the NAEP visual arts assessment was therefore to encourage students to reflect about works of art, communicate ideas and feelings about works of art, and to take imaginative risks to solve artistic problems. At the same time, the assessment needed to be practical to administer and to yield responses that could be compared and scored on a large scale. This last was especially difficult because the students who were assessed had many different arts backgrounds. Teaching approaches to the arts vary widely (Myford & Sims; Gunzenhauser, 2002). Further, because the arts are often not part of standard school curricula, some students had no arts background, whereas others had quite substantial arts experience, gained either in or outside of school. (the challenges of making assessment tasks accessible to a very wide range of students and of locating student samples that can meaningfully perform on an arts assessment are challenges that are somewhat peculiar to NAEP, as NAEP is mandated to assess representative national samples of students. )

To ensure that assessment tasks were as valid and reliable as possible, a team of arts experts was assembled to work alongside measurement specialists at Educational Testing Service (ETS). (ETS currently holds the NAEP development, analysis, and reporting contract. ) This committee was composed of arts classroom teachers, arts curriculum experts, artists, and arts policymakers, many of whom had worked on the voluntary standards and the NAEP arts framework creation. Committee members brought their expertise to creating an arts performance assessment that would be as "authentic" and as valid as possible Gardner, 1996; Wolfe, 1988. This meant that all assessment tasks were created, reviewed, discussed, and refined by arts education experts who sought to adhere as closely as possible to the visions of the arts standards and framework; the goal was to develop exercises and scoring criteria that would measure important arts knowledge and skills in grade; appropriate ways. This included selecting and approving sets of exemplar students' works to be used to train raters to score assessment results. Some of the challenges confronted by ETS staff and the committee and the pros and cons of the strategies adopted to meet those challenges are explored in the following section (Myford & Sims; Gunzenhauser, 2002).

Question 2

A key component in the implementation of the fine arts program is a thorough review of the research and literature on the arts related to academic achievement. A component of your plan will be the development of a study that connects the planned program with student achievement. You should discuss the following components and provide an explanation of why you selected each strategy that you will utilize.

A. Describe the design and method of a research study that you would use to…

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