Help Wanted: Educators and Student Advocates to support the adoption of the new National Core Theatre Standards

By James Palmarini posted 07-23-2014 07:41


Help wanted: Educator-Advocates needed to support adoption of the National Core Theatre Standards

On June 4, the new web-based National Core Arts Standards were released during a streaming webinar in which nearly three thousand individuals participated. The standards in dance, media art, music, theatre, and visual arts are the result of three years of work by the National Coalition for Arts Standards. Seventy writers and NCCAS leadership reviewed thousands of comments by teachers, administrators, parents and other that we’re received as part three public reviews. The theatre standards were created cooperatively by the Educational Theatre Association and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Like the rest of the arts standards, they’re now a 24/7 resource that teachers can use to build curriculum and assessments to them help create better arts learning and opportunities for their students. But there’s one catch: National does not mean federal. The Core Arts Standards are voluntary—that is, the adoption of standards in any discipline is a state-based process and decision. You can certainly start using these standards to reflect your teaching and your students’ learning and perhaps do a crosswalk with your state’s existing standards to see how they align. But in order for these to be YOUR standards, your state will have to adopt them, either by administrative decree or through a legislative process. And having the standards become the law of the land is important because, as an educator, how you align with them can influence your ability to grow and shape your program and be a factor in your evaluation.  

So the work of NCCAS is not done with the release of the standards. EdTA, along with the other professional associations have already begin planning professional development opportunities around the work and creating new instructional resources to supplement the standards. But what’s the point of standards if they’re not considered the foundation of arts teaching and learning in an individual state, district, and school? We need your help to move the adoption process ahead. These are standards that were written by teachers for teachers. And now, we need teachers to support them and use them. And yes—advocate for their adoption in their states, districts, and schools.

To help you get started in this effort, we’ve created a short Adoption Advocacy Power Point to help you “make the case” for standards to your peers, administrators, state and district decision makers, and others. (Among other things, it notes the need to share the theatre standards brochure and poster. If you’re an EdTA member, look for those thing in your Welcome Back packet in August.) You can probably deliver this presentation in about ten minutes, whether you’re at a state conference, school board meeting, or curriculum strategy session. The power point suggests eight proactive strategies that advocates can use. They’re not the only things you can do, but they are a starting point. The one very important thing to remember is that adoption of standards is different in every state; the process might be controlled by one state’s department of education, and by the legislature in another, or the state board of education in a third state. Your first step is to find out how the process works in your state. Good luck in your efforts. Here are the steps included in the power point we’ve posted in the community library:

  1. FIND OUT  who the arts education representative is at your department of education and reach out to them at

  2. CONVENE a meeting of your school/district theatre and other arts teachers and devise a strategy around educating peers, administrators, parents, school board members, and business leaders about the purpose and value of the standards.

  3. SHARE the theatre standards brochure with peers, administrators, and other school decision makers. Display the poster in your classroom and be prepared to explain it.

  4. ATTEND a school board meeting and do a short presentation about how you plan to use the new theatre standards in your classroom.

  5. PARTICIPATE in your district’s or state’s arts advocacy day—schedule meetings with your legislators and be prepared to “make the case” for standards-based theatre education.                    

  6. PROMOTE the standards in EdTA’s Community pages, through blogs and discussions about their purpose and value, and share updates on standards adoption progress, interest, and use  in your school, district, and state.

  7. SIGN UP for an EdTA Standards Professional Development Webinar or volunteer to become a standards mentor.             

  8. USE the theatre standards!—in your curriculum and classroom, and on your stage.