A monthly guide to art education

June 2016

by Ann Talbott Brown

Director of Arts Education, Tennessee Arts Commission

This is an exciting time for education in Tennessee. Exciting? Allow me to explain. There have been several changes in education over the past few years. And with change, depending on whom you ask, often come challenges. With the teacher evaluation model, adopting different curriculum standards, and new student assessments, educators and administrators have certainly had to make adjustments to the old way of doing things.

Photography by Mary Claire Crow

Photograph by Mary Claire Crow

Change also brings opportunity for growth. According to the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress, Tennessee is still the fastest improving state in the nation since 2011. This report shows that Tennessee has the nation’s best education gains in reading and math. But this is an arts education column.

During this same time, arts education in Tennessee has received national attention for the development of the Fine Arts Growth Measures System led by Dr. Dru Davison and a team from Shelby County Schools, allowing arts specialists to demonstrate their effectiveness based on individual growth scores for the first time ever. Several school districts throughout the state have adopted this portfolio-based system, including Metro Nashville Public Schools.

As a result of new math and English Language Arts curriculum standards, teachers are allowed more creativity and flexibility in the way they teach. Teachers are incorporating ways of instructing students to increase critical thinking and problem solving skills. The standards easily lend themselves to approaches used by arts educators. Arts and non-arts teachers are collaborating to strengthen student achievement in all subject areas, including the arts, through arts integration.

The voluntary National Core Arts Standards were also put forth recently and developed with current trends of public education in mind. Currently, there is a committee of arts education leaders revising the Tennessee Fine Arts State Standards too, potentially providing reimagined goals for what Tennessee students should learn.

Create 2013 for Tennessee Arts Commission

Speaking of a new direction, the federal government recently passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. There are several opportunities for arts education with this new law, including retaining the arts as part of a well-rounded education, funding for arts programs, and supporting STEAM education.

This is an exciting time for the arts, and now’s the time for education leaders to come together to explore these opportunities. Join us at the first Tennessee Arts Education Policy Convening as part of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s statewide arts conference Collective Impact: Together as Change Agents on June 8 in Murfreesboro to do just that.

For more information, visit www.tnartscommission.org/statewide-conference/arts-education-policy-convening.

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