To the Editor:
Your recent collection of arts education Commentaries highlighted the irreplaceable value of the arts to learning, documenting many exciting occurrences in the field (“Inspired Learning: A special Commentary section on arts education,” Dec. 3, 2014).
The new framework for arts teaching and learning—the National Core Arts Standards, or NCAS—also demonstrates the progress our educational system has made in acknowledging the positive impact of arts experiences on students’ overall educational achievement.
The NCAS, the first national arts standards to be released in 20 years, was created after reviewing arts education best practices from around the world and eliciting feedback. It addresses the demands of 21st-century education by connecting grade-level arts standards with the Common Core State Standards for English/language arts and math.
The framework now includes a conception of the arts as literacies, with guidance on creating, producing, performing, presenting, responding, and connecting. These standards will help students develop skills that transfer across disciplines: imagination, investigation, construction, and reflection. Artistic literacy doesn’t simply teach artistic skills, but also the skills required for other endeavors.
This broader conception of arts in education echoes the contemporary view of education in general, which extends the definition of literacy beyond reading and writing to address other concerns, such as technological fluency and the ability to synthesize multiple streams of information.
The release of the NCAS implores us to evaluate (and re-evaluate) the best ways to teach our students the skills they need to be successful in college, career, and life.
Director of Teaching and Learning
The Center for Arts Education
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 2015 edition of Education Week as Arts Standards Will Help Youths Learn Across Disciplines