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38-Member Panel Adopts 81 Standards for the Arts

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Reston, Va.

National standards that set down for the first time what all students should know and be able to do in the arts were approved here last week by a 38-member panel of artists, educators, and business representatives.

Numbering 81 in all, the new standards are still subject to some last-minute tinkering directed by the panel.

In general, however, the standards, which will be voluntary for schools, call for a more ambitious, sequential form of arts instruction than most students currently receive.

By the time students graduate from high school, the standards say, they should be able to "communicate'' at a basic level in each of four arts disiplines--dance, music, theater, and visual arts.

Students also should be able to communicate proficiently in at least one of the four disciplines, the standards recommend.

Beyond making and performing art, the standards also call upon schools to prepare students to be able to analyze art and to transfer their understanding of the knowledge and skills needed for one art form to another. (See Education Week, Dec. 15, 1993.)

Although it approved the new standards last week, the arts panel does not plan to unveil them in their entirety until March 7, when they are scheduled to be officially presented to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.

One of Seven Areas

The arts standards are part of a broader national movement to create benchmarks for students in a wide range of academic subjects.

The initial step in the effort came in 1989, when national standards for student achievement in mathematics were set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Picking up on the N.C.T.M.'s idea, President Bush and the nation's governors called for the setting of "world class'' competencies in five core subject areas, as part of the national education goals.

Currently, the federal government is helping to sponsor standards-setting efforts in a total of seven subject areas besides mathematics: the arts, civics, English, foreign languages, geography, history, and science.

However, the standards-setting efforts are also spurring concern among many educators, who worry that schools will be unable to implement all of them. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1994.)

Launched about 18 months ago with more than $1 million from the U.S. Education Department and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the arts-standards project is the first of those efforts to complete its task.

The effort has been led by four national arts organizations: the American Association of Theatre Education, the Music Educators National Conference, the National Art Education Association, and the National Dance Association.

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