Before a teacher can prepare their lesson, they must first be given the curriculum that they are responsible for communicating to their students. Kentucky has such a curriculum. Kentucky’s curriculum has standards for the elements that encompass the arts, the purposes for creating the arts, the humanities and how the arts have reflected societies through the ages, as well as methods for creating the arts.
Once a teacher understands the curriculum, they will likely develop a rubric for their lesson. A rubric defines what the lesson will look like when it is completed correctly. By having a rubric, the teacher can develop a lesson that teaches the student the intended curriculum and can allow the teacher and student to measure how well the student has gained understanding. A rubric helps students understand what is expected of them, as well as aiding the teacher in assessing student performance.
As Kentucky begins to embark on a new era of arts assessment, it must define the curriculum and develop a rubric for what a properly completed assessment will look like. This is where the waters become murky. Kentucky is in the process of developing a Program Review to replace traditional testing of the arts and humanities. Curriculum for this assessment has already been established and is undergoing any last adaptations that may occur to it.
The Program Review outlines the standards that are to be addressed in the final assessment. These include, but are not limited to, professional development, cross-curriculum development, performance elements, and more. The standards are often overlapping and are very comprehensive.
Lacking from this Program Review, is a rubric. A rubric for a properly completed Program Review is necessary and would help educators better understand what is required of them and how to meet those requirements. As it is, the Program Review does not provide guidance in understanding exactly how to collect evidence that standards have been met. There is no checklist of required evidence, no definition of the parameters of evidence, and there is little understanding of how that evidence will be submitted or reviewed.
Without proper guidance, this new form of assessment will be difficult for educators to understand or implement and it will be virtually impossible for the general public to understand when an arts program is truly performing well, or in need of assistance. Clear expectations are necessary and should be expected of the educational leadership in Kentucky.
Just as a good educator will create a “teacher sample” to better understand a process and the challenges it may present, the KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) should provide a “Commonwealth Sample” that will help provide guidelines for educators. Such a sample should also assist parents in interpreting the results of the Program Review. This sort of rubric must be provided, if the Program Review is to ever completely replace traditional testing.