Policy, Standards, and Assessment in Music Education: A Case Study of an Urban District's Arts Assessment Development
Gnibus, Melissa Helene
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It is written in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that the arts are a "core academic subject" and therefore, the arts as a "core academic subject" in conjunction with the start arts standards should be assessed. Large-scale arts assessments exist at the national and state level but the extent to which school districts have created arts assessments at the local level remains unknown. This is a case study of Metro Public Schools' district-wide arts assessment entitled Metro Arts Assessment Model (MAAM). A trilogy of policy, standards, and assessment in relation to Metro Public Schools' (MPS) district-wide program of assessment of arts learning from its commencement to its closure is explored and analyzed in great detail. The process of planning, development and implementation with ethnographic interviews, observations, and document analysis is documented in this thesis. This study took a total of four years to complete from the first interview with Michelle Channon, Senior Program Director for the Arts for Metro Public Schools on March 1, 2004 until the last e-mail exchange with Channon on April 14, 2008 that clarified information. During these four years the following ethnographic research techniques were used to garner information for this thesis: eleven months of observations, which included a total of fourteen meetings with the music teacher participants, consultants of MAAM, and Channon; interviews and follow-up e-mails with Channon and Jonathan Carter, lead consultant of MAAM; phone and e-mail interviews with various music educators involved with large-scale arts assessments; and correspondence with the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The following major findings and conclusions are made based upon primary ethnographic sources and various types of secondary sources. A district-wide arts assessment is a substantial challenge to execute. There are not many sources or existing district-wide arts assessments for a coordinator of such a project to refer to and use at the district level. Thus, the coordinator must possess a strong arts background and have significant administrative and political skills to execute the creation and implantation of a district-wide arts assessment. Michelle Channon possessed all of these qualifications. The most illuminating findings were discovered during the observations. Channon miscalculated her music teacher's abilities and knowledge of music and assessment to create the music portion of the district-wide arts assessment without significant help from Channon and consultants. This, coupled with the personal interactions of the music teachers, had Channon and her consultants completing most of the music portion of the district-wide arts assessment when it was supposed to be a project completed by the music teachers. Thus, if one were to create a district-wide arts assessment, they must have all of the qualities Channon possessed and make sure that the music teachers are capable of creating a district-wide arts assessment from an assessment, musical knowledge, and maturity perspective.