Advocates Make the Case for the Arts in New School Accountability Measures

In recent years, the Alliance has advocated to broaden the ways that school success is measured beyond standardized tests. Under No Child Left Behind, standardized tests are the only measure of achievement and are tied to high stakes accountability measures, giving schools an incentive to “teach to the test” and to ignore the broader spectrum of what it means to provide a complete education for the whole child. 

Those narrow test-related expectations fail to encompass the responsibility our public schools have to prepare students to meet the challenges and expectations of the workforce of the 21st century. As we have moved into an economy driven by ideas and innovation, our schools must respond by providing all our students with the opportunity to develop creative skills. For this reason, the Alliance has made this issue a priority in recent years, sponsoring legislation to create a Creativity Index for schools and most recently, mobilizing advocates to weigh in on new accountability measures being considered by the California Department of Education (CDE). 

Beginning in with the 2015 - 16 school year, state test results may only constitute 60 percent of a high school’s Academic Performance Index (API) and 40 percent must be from indicators other than state tests. Therefore, the CDE is exploring options to adopt new measure such as graduation data and a college and career indicator that will be included in the calculation of a high school’s API. These new measures are scheduled to be adopted by the State Board of Education in July 2013. 

This Spring, the CDE held a series of six regional meetings to gather public input on these new measures. In preparation, the Alliance reached out to advocates around the state with talking points and a webinar to help them to speak on behalf of arts education at these meetings. According to the CDE, arts education advocates comprised the largest subject area of those testifying at those meetings. This information has been shared with the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) committee (part of the CDE) and will be included in their determination of the appropriate measures to calculate a school’s Academic Performance Index (API) score. 
Thank you to the members of our Local Advocacy Network, to our partner organizations and to the many individuals who attended these meetings and spoke up for arts education.