One of the many things I hear from teachers about attempting an Arts Integration lesson is “how and why should I assess the arts piece”? How to assess an arts integration lesson is such a valid concern because many classroom teachers have never had any formal training in an artform, nor were they ever taught the pedagogy of teaching the arts in their educational programs. This is something that needs to be provided during teacher education programs, but until that time comes, many teachers are uncomfortable “grading” an Arts Integration lesson product.
First off, let’s just start with good teaching practice: If you teach it, you assess it. Otherwise, what’s the point in teaching it? So if you are teaching an Arts Integration lesson (the benefits of which are so many it’s mind boggling), then you need to assess the arts piece.
Secondly, there’s a difference between grading and assessing. Grading is slapping a letter or number onto something and exclaiming a definite “value” to the product. This is not bad – it’s just the way it is. Assessing is an entirely different matter. If you are assessing something, you are looking at both the product and the process it took to get there. You are providing a measurement of the difference between where a student started and where they ended. So, if you are teaching an Arts Integration lesson, I highly advise you to assess student work – not grade it.
Now it just comes to the mechanics of assessing the lesson. The big thing to remember is that the measurement must be clear and specific. Many teachers are thrown off from assessing an Arts Integration lesson due to ambiguity. How do they know if what the student produced was any good? Again – we’re looking at the whole process to get to the finished product. Therefore, I recommend starting with using of rubrics when assessing any art in an Arts Integration lesson.
Many of the rubrics that I’ve seen out there for Arts Integration are okay. They give a 4-3-2-1 score to the finished piece based on things like “The student used all of the criteria set out in the beginning of the lesson” or “the work is free of errors”. This provides a very broad base for assessment, but I don’t find it clear or specific enough for teachers to feel comfortable using as a true measure of growth.
In this example, we took the 6+1 Writing Traits assessment and overlaid it with Arts vocabulary to create an Arts Integration Assessment that general education classroom teachers can use when assessing an Arts Integration lesson.
I think this is going to be such a valuable resource for teachers because of a few things:
- There are 6 categories to choose from. This provides some variety is how you choose to assess your students based on what your true goal is from your lesson.
- It’s a familiar system. 6+1 Writing Traits has been adopted by most school districts and their assessment system is incredibly well-known.
- This is an extremely clear and specific rubric that teachers can use. There are bullets under each category that truly explains what a good piece of art looks and sounds like, and yet it’s broad enough to be inclusive of all art forms.
Want to learn how and when to use each of these buckets?
We break down this whole thing in the course Assessment for Makers. You’ll get 10 PD hours for taking the course and create assessments that work FOR you and your students.
So what do YOU think? Would this be helpful to you? I’m excited to hear from you in the comments below.
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.