Final Public Review of NCCAS Underway

by Laurie Baskin

in Advocacy,Education

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There is an arts education opportunity that the field should know about. The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is a coalition of national arts and education organizations and media arts representatives that are developing the 2014 National Core Arts Standards, an update of the 1994 National Arts Standards. The new, voluntary grade-by-grade web-based standards are intended to affirm the place of arts education in a balanced core curriculum, support the 21st-century needs of students and teachers, and help ensure that all students are college and career ready. The arts standards emphasize “big ideas,” philosophical foundations, enduring understandings/essential questions, and anchor/performance standards, all of which are intended to guide the curriculum development and instructional practices that leads to arts literacy for all students.

The NCCAS standards writing teams have held invitational reviews of the Pre-K through 8 as well as high school draft standards in 2013. A final public review of the comprehensive draft PreK-12 standards, including model cornerstone assessments, was launched today, February 14, 2014 and will close on February 28.  The current project timeline includes a release date of June, 2014, for the complete and finished standards.

To find out how to participate in the review and to view all public documents related to the arts standards, visit

Laurie Baskindirector of research, policy & collective action, joined TCG in 1997 as executive assistant to the executive director. In 1999, she was named director of government and education programs and in 2013 was named director of the newly formed department of Research, Policy and Collective Action. Ms. Baskin serves as TCG’s liaison to the Performing Arts Alliance. Prior to joining TCG, Ms. Baskin served for 15 years as executive assistant to the Chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts, working for then-Chairman, Kitty Carlisle Hart. She attended Mount Holyoke College, earned her B.A. from Colgate University, and a degree in arts administration from Adelphi University.

  • Bruce Taylor

    Here’s my take on the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS): A music, theatre, dance or visual arts teacher already knows the fundamentals of their art form and what kids should be taught. Has anything changed with regard to principles and techniques that have been discovered in the last ten years that radically change what kids should learn about a given art form? No. The challenge is to teach these basic elements of arts practice in ways that conform and meet the expectations of Common Core, not to study an entirely separate set of standards such as the NCCAS. Otherwise, arts education will continue to decline in America’s public schools.


    In the real world of education, school administrators don’t really care whether or not arts educators conform with the NCCAS because that framework is merely voluntary and the set of standards that matter to principals and superintendents is the Common Core set of standards and the assessments based on them because their jobs depend upon student success on those assessments and will also probably play in role in teachers’ evaluations. Thus, to marginalize the arts into a sub-set of standards is counter productive. Why not adapt teaching practice to align with the habits of mind required by Common Core without violating the integrity of arts content?

    In the real world of the professional performing arts, the first things you have to think about when creating a production is what limitations do you have. Such as; how much time are you given, where will it be performed, what personnel are involved, what resources are available, and how much money do you have to work with?

    Therefore, when constructing a document such as the NCCAS, they should also provide models for who is going to do it, with how many kids, over what span of time, in what venue, with what resources and how much might it cost. In other words, the actual context arts educators contend with. Otherwise, NCCAS is merely an aspirational document, not one rooted in reality. And the reality is, for most arts programs in most schools, that the total amount of cumulative contact time (dosage) an arts specialist has with a given cohort of students is a little over twenty….four…..hours! Forty two minutes a week, on average, over a 36 week school year – do the math. If kids had to do everything outlined in the NCCAS, in any of the five art forms, they wouldn’t have time to learn anything else!