STAGE 2: Assessing the Current Arts Education Program

Before launching into the strategic planning process, it is essential to assess the current status of the district’s arts education programs and funding. Some of the key questions that need to be addressed are:

  • What is currently being taught? Who is teaching it?
  • Which arts disciplines are being offered in our elementary schools? Middle schools? High schools?
  • Which of our students have access to arts instruction? Which do not?
  • To what extent are our programs aligned with the state arts content standards?
  • How are our arts programs funded?

In recent years, many survey instruments that assess the status of arts education have been developed and tested. For the purpose of district-wide planning that is based on an accurate and fairly detailed assessment of what currently exists throughout the district, we have learned that it is best to capture the data at each school site, and then utilize a data analysis technique described in this chapter to gain a complete overview of instructional offerings.

This chapter explores the definition of high quality arts education, introduces tools and methods for data collection and analysis, and provides a framework for assessing your current arts education funding.

A Note About Arts Standards

Standards-based, sequential arts instruction is the foundation of a high quality school arts program. Here are some things you should know about California’s arts standards and curriculum framework:

  • The State of California adopted content standards in the Visual and Performing Arts in 2001. Like all California content standards, the arts standards are voluntary, but have been formally adopted by districts throughout the state.
  • The standards define what a student should know and be able to do at each grade level from PreK through 12th grade.
  • The Visual and Performing Arts include four disciplines: Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Each of the four disciplines has its own set of PreK-12 content standards.
  • The Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Framework was adopted by the California State Board of Education and published by the California Department of Education (CDE) in 2004. This document includes the arts standards, and also provides valuable information for developing and implementing high quality arts programs, including program planning and design, instruction and professional development, evaluation and assessment, and adopting instructional materials.

Download the arts standards at:
Download the arts curriculum framework at: