National Standards in Education
A little history . . . Bear with me, now! It's helpful to know how we get ourselves into the pickle in the first place.
On August 26, 1981, the U.S. Secretary of Education, T. H. Bell, created the National Commission on Excellence in Education, directed to research and report on American education. In 1983, the resulting report was entitled, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. This report revealed many deficiencies in the American system of education. The Goals 2000 Act, initiated in 1989, was enacted to address these challenges, calling for national standards in English, history, civics and government, foreign languages, geography, economics, and the arts. The objective was to coordinate state and federal resources in order to improve academic standards. In other words, individual states were given some flexibility with which to implement established National Education Goals.
In 1994, the National Standards for the Arts, as recommended by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, were signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton. The National Standards for Arts Education outline "what every student should know and be able to do in the arts" (MENC). Included in this document, published by the National Association for Music Education, were nine voluntary content standards for music education.
The standards specified results or outcomes, but not curriculum, method, or philosophy, in an attempt to allow flexibility for a wide-range of local circumstances and resources.
Ultimately, some states instituted these standards as law and some
retained voluntary status. Most states have their own version
of the Standards, based upon the national document. The
Content Standards for the National Standards for the Arts in Music
were as follows:
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, along and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and musical performances.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
Each of the standards was assigned Achievement Standards that
specify the prescribed outcomes for the content standard.
These were listed for each of three tiers: grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, and included
basic, proficient, and advanced proficiency levels. These
prescribed achievement standards were the goals associated with
students in grades 4, 8, and 12, and strategies for assessment of
these levels were also provided by MENC.
In June of 2014, an updated version of the National Standards were
released and renamed the National Core Arts Standards. The
four anchor standards apply to dance, media arts, music, theatre,
and visual arts. They are:
Although it looks like things
were simplified, when you drill into each category, the objectives
are just as extensive, if not more so. See content on the NAfME
Here are a few more assumptions (are you guilty of any of these?)
"I can't possibly cover all of these standards. I teach elementary music and there is barely enough time to learn a few songs."
"I'm not expected to cover them all. This is band.
They learn to read music (hopefully) and perform. That's what they hired me for."
"When I introduced the piece, I told them who wrote it, when, and where he was from. That's enough of that."
"I don't even know how to improvise and compose. It would be ridiculous to spend time on that."
question all assumptions
If you learn nothing else in this course, I hope you learn that.