1.  The 2014 Core Arts Standards: a new review opportunity

Posted 02-05-2014 09:30
This message has been cross posted to the following Discussions: Open Forum and Advocacy .

The 2014 Core Arts Standards are nearly ready for release. The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is conducting a final review February 14-28, and has posted downloadable drafts of all five arts disciplines' standards at The theatre team is seeking additional input between now and the formal survey launch through a series of questions that will be posted daily on the Advocacy Community Page.

Here's the first question:  Do the theatre standards offer enough clarity, specificity, and measurability for use in your classroom?
James Palmarini
Director of Educational Policy


2.  RE:The 2014 Core Arts Standards: a new review opportunity

Posted 02-06-2014 17:14
The standards are fairly clear - written in educationese as always so there is some disconnect, but not too much.  They definitely ring all my alarm bells though - this is what I was afraid would happen.  They concentrate (it seems to me) on a lot of stuff OTHER than acting.  I teach three levels of an acting studio class, plus a mask & movement class, plus a stagecraft class (semester classes all).  If I am to cover all of these, I will have to abandon a lot of scene work, focus more on history (I already cover history - western theatre tradition - so well that students who take introductory college courses tell me they already knew everything from my HS class).   PLUS find money from the school to give me more technical theatre access for my students (a lot of these advanced standards seem to want the students to tech their scene to achieve that rating - which means that I must also find some way of giving them that kind of training in class as well).

The problem when they start making these standards for something like theatre is they invariably make them more "traditional school" than a good (IMHO) theatre class should be.  I believe that students in an acting class should learn to ACT. They do that through scene work, peer critique, and teacher critique. I see some of that in these standards, but also a LOT of other things that should not be there.  Theatre class is HS should be about the acting, about techniques, about learning what approaches to character work for you, and about learning to give and take critique.  Not about writing papers (I do have them do that, but only of you count critique or character bios as "papers").

I don;t know, maybe I am being too harsh, there was actually more related to performance than I thought there would be, but I don;t like what I am seeing, and I certainly don;t want to be forced to implement it and change a program that clearly works for my students to fit in a bunch of crap that is more easily "measurable" than a scene.  Just my .02.

Jeffrey Davis


3.  RE:The 2014 Core Arts Standards: a new review opportunity

Posted 02-07-2014 11:44

Thank you for bringing up these important issues. Your passion for your teaching and your student's education is clear. I think that you are voicing questions that most theatre educators have about any standards: How will these standards change my teaching? Affect my students? Do they reflect what I actually teach? What facilities, technologies, and equipment are they asking for that are beyond what I have now and how am I to meet the standard without those? What hoops will I need to jump through for my administrator to see that I and my students are meeting these standards?

These questions have been my biggest concern as part of the standards writing team. Standards are only of value if they capture what is truly the most important parts of what teachers actually teach and assess what students actually need to know to be successful. They also have to be clear and usable to a variety of stakeholders from teachers and administrators to legislatures and state directors of education. In addition, the standards also have to be able to be used in a variety school settings from small rural classrooms to large arts magnet schools. It is a tricky prospect and the writers need your help!

There are always unintentional consequences to anything that we do. Attempting to think through all of them, especially for something that will affect the future of theatre education across the nation, is difficult. This is why review of the standards by educators like yourself is critical before the final release.

There will be a review Feb. 14-28 and I would encourage you (and everyone else out there!) to put everything you are concerned about and how you see the standards affecting you and your students into that review. It is vital that theatre educators review with an eye toward improvement of the standards, talk about your concerns and clarify the parts of the standards you feel work best. Take the time and really invest in this review.

I challenge everyone to get on the phone, out on social media, and talk in person with everyone they know in theatre education to review these standards. The world is run by those that show up and this is the moment to have your voice heard!

Thanks you again Jeffery for keeping this vital discussion ongoing! Leslie

Leslie Van Leishout
Theater Education Coordinator
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville