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The Draft Overarching Framework Skeleton: Anatomy of a Work in Progress

Posted By Rachel Evans, Kean University & NCCAS Theatre Writing Chair, Friday, February 03, 2012

How do you feel when someone whom you deeply respect stops in the rehearsal hall to observe before the show has opened? Are you craving useful feedback but also worried you’ll be judged before your process has blossomed? 

Well, that’s how I feel right now about the Next Generation Arts Standards Project. Since October I’ve been serving as AATE and EdTA’s Chair of the Theatre Writing Team and although the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is still many months away from releasing a draft of the new national voluntary theatre standards, we are far enough along in the process that it’s time to invite you to "observe a rehearsal” to see how the Big Production is shaping up.

The Framing Committee of NCCAS charged the Writing Chairs from the five disciplines (theatre, dance, music, visual arts, and media arts) to propose a conceptual framework to guide the scale, scope, content, and form of what will materialize. I could go on at great length about the rigorous two month process it took, but, to continue my analogy, that would be like making you read the daily rehearsal reports from the Big Production: while informative, they still don’t really give you a feel for the tone and tenor of the rehearsal process. 

The important thing is that we have a Draft Overarching Framework that has been publically released. (You can view it below and view all the current NCCAS documents on the NCCAS website) It’s a tiered one-sheet chart that will serve as the skeletal starting point for the Theatre Writing Team Members (as well as the other writing teams) who will begin creating the new Standards during the next phase of the project.

As members of AATE, what should you know about the Framework? What will be the key anatomical features of these 21st century Theatre Standards? 

Here’s a guide to how the new Standards’ are being envisioned, based on the fundamental elements of the Framework:

Philosophical Statements:, The Standards will contain bold statements defining what the Arts are at their very essence. More than just rationale, these declarations articulate the core values and beliefs we use daily to help others understand the powerful role the Arts play through out our lives.

Lifelong Goals: The Philosophical Statements serve as the launching point for establishing meaningful Arts Education goals. Collectively, we work towards creating a country of artistically literate citizens. The Standards will state the anticipated outcomes if our students and communities commit to meeting these Lifelong Goals.

Artistic Processes: Building on the model established in the 1997 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Standards will use the three artistic processes of Creating, Performing/Sharing, and Responding to identify how we go about meeting those Lifelong Goals. The term "Sharing” is a new 2012 addition to the basic CPR model, with the intention of allowing a broader, more inclusive definition of the learning that takes place at this stage of the art-making process. Theatre will also be designating a fourth artistic process: Connecting. Connecting can be defined as the process artists use when they employ multiple ways and types of thinking to perpetuate their work and add significance to their life experiences. It will include cognitive acts like inquiring, discovering, and valuing to reinforce the connecting artists do both during and between Creating, Performing/Sharing, and Responding.

Strands and Components: Each discipline will be represented by its own Strand within the Artistic Processes. The Strands will identify the actions (Components) that serve as the building blocks for Creating, Performing/Sharing, Responding, and Connecting. These Components are non-linear and perhaps simultaneous actions that result in a purposeful learning experience in each of the Processes.

Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings: To help guide instruction in the Arts, each Component will be accompanied by our content’s most engaging questions and lasting concepts. Through the spirit of inquiry and the resonance of fundamental statements, it is hoped that an expansive, inclusive spectrum of Theatre knowledge and skills will emerge elegantly for the users of the Standards.

Evidence of Learning: Within the Standards each discipline will provide Cornerstone Assessment Models that root learning in the actual doing of the art form. These examples are illustrations, not prescriptions, of what classroom instruction might look like using high-quality sequential Learning Plans, informed instruction and reliable and valid assessment procedures. Outcomes will be demonstrated through recognizable indicators of student success, including exemplar examples. The knowledge and skills needed to produce evidence of authentic learning will also align and be strengthened by Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings.

So that’s it: from Philosophical Foundations to Evidence of Learning. I wish I could present the parts of what will be dynamic, interactive web-based Standards in something more than a list of terms and a 2-dimensional chart. But, in fact, that’s where we are (with plenty of vision and plans for innovation waiting in the wings). 

In our effort to be transparent and inclusive in this endeavor, better to share our ideas sketched out like this than not at all, right? After all, you are theatre people and you know what it means to be in the midst of a process. The Big Production will bear only a faint resemblance to this early rehearsal. Stay tuned for more on the Work in Progress.



Rachel Evans is serving as Chair of the Theatre Writing Team for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, proudly representing the membership of AATE and EdTA.

Tags:  elementary  framework  nccas  secondary  standards 

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