.                  Teaching Artist Support Collaborative  
                          of California (TASC)

Resources -    Assessment.  Documentation.  Evaluation.

There are lots of different ways to assess your effective as a teaching artist and/or the learning of the students of any age that you're engaging.  Building assessment into your teaching strategies allows you to adjust your lessons to match both student accomplishment and student interest.  You also will find that continuous assessment and documentation allow you to:

Document effective practice.  Celebrate student learning.  Share collaborative spirit. 

You can do this through:

Peer review – students assessing others and giving feedback using checklists and worksheets based on specific criteria and learning objectives

Self-assessment – students assessing their work using checklists and worksheets based on the criteria and learning objectives

Self-assessment of group work – students assessing how they worked in a group, and how their group performed

Student reflection – student writing about their work

Teacher observation and feedback – verbal feedback during conversation and classroom work

Teacher observation checklist – used by teachers to guide observation of class discussions based on specific criteria and learning objectives

Charts of class discussion – documentation of the students’ observations, conversation, and questions

Student artwork – preliminary work and final products

Student writing – preliminary work and final products

Rubrics – checklists for summative assessment

Video – students and teachers in action

One holistic approach to documentation and assessment can be found in the Making Learning Visible (MLV), which leverages the belief that lively and continuous documentation of an arts learning process fosters both individual and group learning, creating a relationship between them. Learn more about Making Learning Visible here.  (above right: MLV documentation from a teacher training on arts integration and addressing racism in the classroom, Oakland, 2010)


Myths About Arts Education Assessment

(excerpted and adapted from the Arts Assessment Resource Guide, published by the California County Superintendents Arts Initiative, CCSESA)

When first introduced to the idea of assessing the arts, many educators are reluctantfor a number of reasons.

Let’s take this opportunity to dispel some commonly held myths about arts education assessment.

Myth #1: Success in the arts is subjective. Achievement in the arts is often thought of as highly subjective. We are all familiar with having a personal response to a piece of visual art or music that differs from others’ responses. There is a prevalent myth that the arts cannot be assessed because of this subjectivity. In actuality, there are many
aspects of arts education that can be assessed within state or national standards.

What is NOT subjective and can be assessed?

  1. Content (knowledge, traditions, history, and vocabulary).
  2. Technique (skills and how they are used).
  3. Intellectual behavior that is developed by the arts--these 7 behaviors are identified by Carmen Armstrong , in her book Designing Assessment in Art as the capacity to: Know. Perceive. Organize. Inquire. Value. Manipulate. Cooperate. And each can be used to create goals and assessment tools for student learning. These behaviors are necessary for success in the arts but also in other content areas of the curriculum.

Myth #2: It is all about the end product. Maybe this is true in the professional world of the arts, but in arts learning, the process of making the art is as valuable and important as the resulting art work.  The end product is only one piece of the student’s learning and experience. Arts education is about knowledge, process and product, and a variety of process-related criteria can be assessed. In a study published by the National Art Education Association, at  least 75% of the teachers identified the following criteria as the five used most commonly to assess students in visual arts.

1.     Effort – are students trying, particularly with something new or challenging?

2.     Problem-solving ability – when faced with an obstacle, how do students respond? What do they do next?

3.     Improvement or growth – Students may not master a technique or concept but are they making progress toward that goal? Are students challenging themselves?

4.     Classroom behavior – Classroom behavior might look a little different in an arts context. Are students supportive of each other, offering constructive criticism about each others’ work? Students may not be working quietly by themselves, although there may be instances where that is appropriate. Students may be working collaboratively. For example, students in a theatre class may be actively engaged in creating a scene – talking, laughing, moving classroom furniture. This may be the ideal classroom behavior for this class, rather than working independently at a desk.

5.     Self-motivation or initiative – Are students engaged? Are they pursuing answers to their own questions?


Myth #3: Teachers can just tack on assessment to their arts instruction. Many classroom teachers feel the lack of the arts in their own education. Professional development in arts education assessment is a need that extends to all teachers who use and teach the arts.


Myth #4: Assessment is contradictory to the artistic process. Actually, the artistic process includes embedded assessment. If you look at the simple graphic below, you will see there is an assessment component to the artistic process. Assessment and art making are inextricably linked. Assessment can come from the artist as self-assessment and it come from external sources, such as the public or arts critics. We commonly think of these types of assessment as critiques.



For more on research about Assessment in the Arts, read:

Taking Full Measure: Rethinking Assessment Through the Arts. Dennie Palmer Wolf & Nancy Pistone. (1991). Published by The College Board.

Assessing Expressive Learning: A Practical Guide for Teacher-Directed Assessment in K-12 Visual Arts Education. Charles M. Dorn, Stanley S. Madeja & F. Robert Sabol (2004); published by Lawrence Erhlbaum.

Designing Assessment in Art. Carmen L. Armstrong (1994). Published by the National Art Education Association.





Research on Assessment and Program Evaluation from the Field:

Sharing your results is important -- it furthers the idea that an arts integrated education can achieve greater levels of success than non-arts integrated programs.

Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development.

Envisioning Arts Assessment: A Process Guide for Assessing Arts Education in School Districts and States

Learning Partnerships: Improving Learning in Schools with Arts Partners in the Community.

More than Measuring: Program Evaluation as an Opportunity to Build the Capacity of Communities

Priorities for Arts Education Research.

The Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It.

Additional Resources in Research/Data Collection:

Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999–2000 (Fast Response Survey System: FRSS)

This report presents information on the characteristics of public elementary and secondary school arts education programs, including data on the availability of instruction in the arts, staffing, funding, supplemental programs and activities, and administrative support of arts education

TASC of California is a collaborative of teaching artists and the organizations that hire, train, and support them. 
We are a Member of Intersection for the Arts. Intersection provides resources, community and cultural space in order to contribute to the sustainable practices of artists and arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.theintersection.org.    

Contact us at: tascofcalifornia@gmail.com.

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The art works on this site are used with permission of the artist, Helene Goldberg, who also created the TASC logo.
Read more Helene Goldberg Artist Statement.pdf

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