Elementary School Music

“Arts Achieve:” New York City’s arts education assessments

Posted in NYC Arts Partners by P. Conrad on November 11, 2011

This past year, the city’s Department of Education joined with a group of local arts organizations and won a multimillion dollar “Investing in Innovation Fund” (i3) grant from the US Department of Education. The project, called Arts Achieve: Impacting Student Success in the Arts, is spearheaded by the longtime DOE arts-partner Studio in a School, and includes Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute; ArtsConnection; 92nd Street Y/Harkness Dance Center, Dance Education Laboratory;  and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution. An additional partner is Metis Associates, a consulting group that provides research, evaluation, program development and information technology services.

According the Arts Achieve grant application, the project is meant to create “standardized ways of assessing student achievement in visual arts, music, theater, and dance in benchmark years: 5th, 8th, and 12th grades.”  Hopefully, the assessment results will translate into better classroom instruction and higher student achievement. Use of digital technology features broadly in the project and in its eventual wider application, in tools for communication, for assessment feedback, and for accessing arts curriculum.

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Evaluating music teachers

Posted in Prof. Development, Readings & Research by P. Conrad on May 16, 2010

As New York City revamps the way it evaluates the work done by public school teachers, staff who teach in areas without an annual standardized test are wondering what sorts of criteria will determine into which of the four categories they may fall — highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. They may also ask themselves about the training and expertise of the supervisor who makes that determination.

Self-assessments may not have a the same value as students’ scores on a standardized test, but for a classroom music teacher, this kind of systematic evaluation (along with peer observations) can make a powerful difference in students’ success.

Evaluating teacher effectiveness in music” is a short article from the Spring 2008 issue of  American Music Teacher, and while it’s written largely from the perspective of private instructors, it contains valuable ideas on different methods and problems of self-evaluation.

The author, Kathleen S. McAllister, is a professor of piano and piano pedogogy at Baylor University in Texas. She argues that watching video of one’s own teaching is essential to any serious self-evaluation. Even a simple audio recording for later review can provide tremendous insight into the “the gap between how we think we are teaching and our actual behavior during lessons.”

Another resource is Music Teacher Self-Assessment: A Diagnostic Tool for Professional Development available from Edwin Gordon‘s GIA Publications. Authors James Froseth and Molly Weaver include a DVD that lets users examine behaviors in a teaching sample before creating their own assessment videos.

The GIA book is an outcome of a collaboration between the University of Michigan and the Flint, Michigan Community Schools during the 1991-1992 school year, part of their national music education research project.