NCCAS Releases New Standards

Mike Lawson • News • June 18, 2014

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First new standards since 1994 define the future of music and arts education

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards has released the first new guidelines for arts education since 1994. With specific recommendations and guidelines for curricula across the spectrum of the arts, including New National Core Music Standards, the new standards can be found in a searchable format on the NCCAS website. The full PDF of the standards can be downloaded here.

The result of a two-year process involving music teachers, music administrators, and college researchers, as well as professional teaching artists, the standards have undergone three rounds of public review, with input from over 6,000 educators. 

Per NAFME, here are the most relevant differences between the standards set in 1994 and those set in 2014:

  • The new standards focus on conceptual understanding.  This is somewhat different from the 1994 standards, which consisted primarily of knowledge and skills.  The new standards provide a framework for developing student independence and musical literacy. 
  • The new standards achieve this through by cultivating students’ ability to carry out the Three Artistic Processes of Creating, Performing and Responding, which are articulated in specific process components (steps) with related Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions.  In the past, few teachers taught just one 1994 Content Standard during a lesson.  There was no clear structure that helped teachers put the standards together. The Three Artistic Processes model will aid instruction by closely matching the actual processes in which musicians engage
  • The 2014 standards are presented through a grade-by-grade sequence of standards from PK through 8, and through discrete strands at the secondary level that include classes commonly found in schools – Ensembles, Guitar/Harmonizing Instruments, Music Composition/Theory, and Music Technology.  This greater specificity will help teachers to write grade-by-grade objectives.  Separate strands at the high school level will provide teachers with standards that more closely match the unique goals of their specialized classes.
  • Model Cornerstone Assessments will also be associated with the standards.  These tasks, currently in draft form, will eventually provide teachers with research-based assessments that can be modified for classroom, district or statewide use.   As a result of piloting – in which music teachers will participate – they will also generate student work that can be used to clarify the standards themselves.




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