How to Assess Your Art Program is a 2 Part Series covering an assessment process that will help you gain meaningful data to support your teaching and your art program!
How to Assess Your Art Program: Part 1
At the end of each school year, how do you really know if your art program is effective? Are students learning what you intend? Is the curriculum you are teaching developmentally appropriate? Are students retaining the most important things you are teaching?
If you can’t answer any of these questions, maybe it’s time you started to think about a program evaluation to assess your art program.
What is the difference between a program evaluation and a student progress assessment?
A program evaluation measures the overall curriculum, overall student performance knowledge and helps the TEACHER drive his or her instruction, curriculum, and teaching strategies to improve his or her art program. For example, if every year, your assessment is telling you students aren’t understanding the concept of tints and shades in 2nd grade, perhaps it’s not developmentally appropriate for a 2nd grader to be able to mix and tint or a shade. Or perhaps you aren’t covering it as thoroughly as you could. A program evaluation can tell you all of these things, and help you teach the concept, or tweak your curriculum for the following year.
Student progress assessments tracks individual student progress, and based upon that individual student data, a teacher will make changes or tweaks to the student’s educational plan. Individual student data is sent home with students and parents.
As art educators, we see so many students in a week, it would be nearly impossible to track individual student progress, which is why I strongly recommend a program evaluation. It gives you meaningful data you can use, and also validates your art program through data, and in today’s day and age, we know if you don’t have data, you will fall behind.
I find program evaluations a manageable solution a perfect way for art educators to obtain the data that administration craves, and the data you need to inform you teaching, while avoiding hours and hours of grading and individual monitoring of student progress, which is not practical or realistic in the room. (and you know I like practical and realistic!)
Follow these simple steps to write an effective program evaluation for your entire art program or one of your art courses.
Writing a Program Evaluation
Step 1: Decide What to Assess
When writing a program evaluation, you first need to decide what the Hallmarks of your art program are. What are the 3-10 basic things you want students to know after leaving your class or program? At the end of 6th grade, what are the key learnings? We have Power Standards that already break down the most important concepts, making it quite easy for us to choose what we will assess. If you don’t have Power Standards, I highly suggest your write some to focus your work. Some call them learning outcomes, benchmarks, same thing! Click the image to download the PDF to see some sample Power Standards.
Step 2: How Will You Assess?
The next step is choosing what type of assessment you want to use to assess the power standards. I have weeks of coursework in the Assessment in Art Education course that covers all of the different types of assessments you could create, so I will just keep it simple and tell you what our department decided to use. We use a multi-tired approach with small performance based assessments, a few fill in the blanks and constructed responses. The bubble test of yore is long gone, because it royal stank at truly assessing what our students were learning in the art room. We decided on a simple performance for each Power Standard that we teach.
Here is a sample below of what a simple performance might look like, broke up into 3 Trimesters (all on one page, isn’t it handy?) This sample represents the 2nd grade Power Standards.
Do you see the 1, 2 and 3 at the bottom? Theses numbers represent each trimester. Students take one section each trimester, and we have the data to record and store on one sheet of paper. We collect all the data from each trimester to get our final scores.
**Some of you might be asking why don’t you just use the artwork or project as the assessment? Why an additional assessment? Answer: Because you helped the student along the way during the project, and a true assessment should be the student independently performing the task at hand. This is the assumption I am working under**
Step 3: When Will You Assess?
Deciding when to give the assessment is a very important factor. A few years ago, we were asked to give a bubble test in art at the end of the YEAR. Yes, a whole year’s worth of content on one bubble test. The kids come once a week for 45 minutes. This was not right! They couldn’t accurately remember what happened back in September, and it wasn’t fair. Not to mention the assessment was over facts and not art performance. Now, we give our assessment at the end of every tri-term. Literally two questions, 3 times a school year. The assessment only takes 15 minutes and has a simple checklist to grade (more on grading in part 2). This way, the information is fresher in the student’s head and a more accurate picture of what they learned that term.
Whew! That was a lot of information. I’ll just let you digest.
Stay tuned. In the next installment, we will cover how to grade the assessments, record your data, and use the data to both drive your art program and advocate!
Why do you think a program evaluation would be helpful to you?
What questions do you have for me about our assessment process?