I agree that we need excellent teachers in the classroom. I was on the statewide committee concerning Illinois Senate Bill 7 to have “value added” assessments for teacher evaluation. The twitter-verse and blogs like Slate’s “No More Ditching Gym Classes,” Diane’s Ravitch’s “Oh, NO! Yes Another Arts Assessment,” and Dana Goldstein’s “How are Schools Testing in Art, Music, and Gym? got me going on my reaction to this ridiculous solution of testing the non-academics with a standardized test. To have a multiple-choice exam or a computer-generated exam to see if the arts and physical education teacher is an “excellent” teacher may be the downfall of our entire arts and physical education in programs in schools. There are authentic ways to assess.
First, the arts and physical education in the schools are varied in access to teachers and materials. Many arts and physical education teachers teach one to five days a week for twenty to sixty minutes to a class of fifteen to fifty students. So if we are going to have written tests we will move from DOING the arts and physical education to learning ABOUT the arts and physical education.
Many artists and athletes got their start in the schools, then progressed to private lessons with noted teachers/coaches. These noted teachers/coaches NEVER had their students take a test, WHAT their students did or performed, was the test. Talented and gifted artists and athletes gravitate to those teachers/coaches who’s students have gone to be amazing musicians, artists, and athletes. All you have to do is look at an musician, artist, or athlete’s resume where you find a complete list of teachers/coaches they have studied within their disciplines.
I would love the all the professional football players to take a standardize test on how well they know the rules of the game. The top two teams are in the Super Bowl. Just because you know the rules doesn’t mean you can perform and do the activity. Football is football, not a standardized test on the rules.
Second, do we want to “standardize” the arts and physical education or create artists and athletes? Having students do the exact same picture with the same colors is not art, it is how compliant the student was with the project.
If we want musicians and artists, let the teachers allow them to perform and create as their assessment. Let our students WORK be the test. Just because the academic teachers are taking standardized tests does not mean the arts and physical education teachers should as well. Let the arts be artistic and physical education be physical - that’s what they are.
The emphasis should be on the student work because as a society we want musicians, artists, and athletes that are innovative and creative. We want those arty students that think differently and are allowed to create and use their talents to amaze and bring us to tears. But, if we succumb to standardized tests for the arts and physical education, the only tears will be us because we driven our artists and athletes away due to the standardized test.