Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Standards: Sure! But Which Ones?!

My colleague and I are working to overhaul the 6-12 Course of Study for the orchestra department. With revisions to Ohio's State Standards (2012) and National Core Arts Standards (2014) an update is critical. The existing Course of Study, developed 12-15 years ago is not current, and best-practices have changed with regard to standards and assessment. Additionally, there was no (1) teacher, (2) student, (3) parent, nor (4) administrator friendly version that could be used "in the trenches."

We find ourselves overwhelmed with Standards. Particularly in their perceived incompatibility with each other. Do we use the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Curriculum? Do we use the 2012 Ohio Department of Education Music Standards? Do we use the NEW National Core Arts Standards? Do we combine them all? How do we do that?! Do we model our curriculum after another model district? ... or do we become the model district? 

After attending a professional development conference, we decided to ditch them all - for the time being anyway. Why?

1. We found the ASTA curriculum, while excellent, to be very cumbersome. 
2. We found the ODE Music Standards to be off the mark, and lacking specificity for orchestra.
3. We found the National Core Arts Standards to also lack necessary specificity, though this was intentional for the breadth of ensembles under the umbrella category of "Traditional and Emerging." 

As a result, we are developing a composition- and skills-based curriculum. The rationale is that by using this approach we establish the (1) process-orientation of the National Core Arts Standards, (2) the specificity aimed by the ODE standards, while making the means through which we achieve our desired end a (3) string-specific curriculum. 

Stay tuned for more!

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