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Districts With Strong Art-Education Curricula

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For its study of visual-arts programs, the Getty Center asked more than 100 art-education experts around the country to identify school districts with strong art curricula. From these, it selected seven districts whose programs seemed closest to the center's theoretical ideal.

"The districts we have identified as having discipline-based art-education programs are all evolving programs," said Leilani Lattin Duke, the center's director. Each of those selected for further study has its shortcomings, she said, and no one model will work in every school district.

The districts profiled in the report range from an affluent university town to an inner-city area and from a district of 3,100 students to an urban system of 85,000. They include:

Virginia Beach, Va.--Curriculum guides for each grade level outline instructional goals and activi-ties to help meet those goals. The guides emphasize the development of perception and sensitivity, the study of artists and works of art, the critical evaluation of art, and the making of art. In national surveys, Virginia Beach students have been three to four times more successful than the average student in identifying major works and styles of art and have been able to describe and analyze works of art with greater insight and sophistication.

Palo Alto, Calif.--The district requires one year of fine arts for high-school graduation. A model state-supported project called spectra (Special Teacher Resources for Art) has brought trained artists from the community into 3rd- to 6th-grade classrooms for three years to provide students with an organized, comprehensive introduction to art heritage, art appreciation, aesthetics, and practice, and to train classroom teachers to do the same.

Milwaukee--In addition to a regular art program, the district supports an elementary and middle school for the creative arts, an art museum satellite program, and a high school devoted to the visual and performing arts. The district has produced two series of educational-television programs on the arts that are regularly broadcast to all schools and used at teachers' discretion.

Hopkins, Minn.--A team of teachers and a half-time fine-arts supervisor hired at the suggestion of a parent have worked with a University of Minnesota faculty member to develop a curriculum based on theories of the psychologist Jean Piaget and the art educator Manuel Barkan. Manuals for each grade list objectives for producing and responding to art. Inservice training has helped teachers learn the program's concepts and approaches.

--lo

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