Research report: New Study released on Common Core Standards and Arts Standards Alignment, but will educators embrace it?

A visual arts classroom.What do math and the arts have in common? Quite a bit, according to a new study just released by the College Board, a partner of the National Core Arts Standards. The study points to evidence demonstrating the two subject areas can strengthen students’ analysis and observation skills within a new framework for national core standards. The new framework proposes to put U.S. students on par with their international counterparts. The latest findings are one of a handful of research projects developed to support the new core standards. The details of the new core standards, which have been unfolding over the past year, mark some of the most significant changes in more than 15 years, and many arts educators are hoping they will be a boon for arts education.

Key points

Research in the new report, “The Arts and the Common Core: A Review of Connections Between the Common Core State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards Conceptual Framework,” is divided into two parts and analyzes arts-based examples already present in the Common Core ELA standards as well as the overlap between skills and habits emphasized in the Common Core Standards. In developing the standards, the study looked at the following disciplines:

  • Dance
  • Media arts
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts

The report also compares the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice with the Common Core’s Anchor Standards:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Language

Findings showed that there was a strong connection between the Philosophical Foundation/Lifelong Goal “The Arts as Communication” with the language and goals of most ELA and Math standards.

Differing opinions

While most states have embraced the new Common Core Standards, others have not. Some educators have been concerned over a potential learning gap that they say the new standards will create. Others, like Jeff Taylor, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and assessment in the North Hills School District in Pittsburgh, Penn., was skeptical about how both teachers and students would respond.

In a December 3, 2012, post by Rick Wills to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “State on Board with Common Core Standards,” Taylor suggested that the move to the new standards would be time consuming and difficult to grasp for some.

‘”These standards require teachers to teach at a deeper level,” Taylor said. “They are not used to teaching that way. They are much more rigorous standards. Most teachers are fine with it, but some are concerned that their students will not be up to it.”’

Ideas for integration

Even though the idea of shifting to a new set of core standards makes some educators uncomfortable, one solution to their anxiety is having a toolbox to go to for implementing the new standards.

Susan Riley, an Arts Integration Specialist, counters the naysayers by offering several tools for adapting to the change. In “Use Arts Integration to Enhance Common Core,” a November 30, 2012, post to Edutopia, Riley says using the arts integration approach is a natural process for both teachers and students.

“Arts Integration seems to be hidden from view because teachers are nervous about their own artistic abilities, and also their ability to effectively facilitate a lesson that includes authentic arts standards,” Riley said. “Yet Arts Integration strategies have a variety of levels, and many can be implemented quite quickly in classrooms.”

A new generation

Developing national standards for the arts is no easy task. In developing the new standards, careful consideration was paid to the analysis and evidence of art and artists with respect to visual interpretation.

David Coleman, an architect of the Common Core State Standards and incoming president of The College Board, cites knowledge, observation, evidence and choices as the critical points for the “common core” in his September 17, 2012, post to ARTSblog, “Common Core Architect Adds to Blog Salon Discussion.”

“The great news is that the standards call on so many things the arts do well,” Coleman wrote. “The tradition of careful observation, attention to evidence and artists’ choices, the love of taking an artist’s work seriously lies at the heart of these standards.

At the same time, arts materials need to shift to embrace these core shifts in the standards. The next generation of arts materials should likely examine fewer works of art more closely, so that there are opportunities for careful consideration of specific works. We should look for and share the most magnificent things written about the arts at higher levels of text complexity, to provide wonderful things to read at each grade level.”

For more information on educational standards, visit Questia’s topic page on Curriculum and Instruction.

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