Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Art Teachers of Saint Lawrence County Unite! (Well, some of them!)

Today we had a regional art teachers meeting to try and work out regional assessments.  We attempted this back in March, but never got very far.  Probably only 1/3 of the teachers were present today, but I think we accomplished a lot more than if everyone would have been there!

Unfortunately, I was the only all elementary art teacher present (everyone else was K-12, 3-8, 5-8, etc.).  The assessment rubric we created was geared towards Jr./Sr. high, but is easily changed for lower grades.  What we ended up deciding on for a regional assessment (for those who would want to use it), was to do an observational drawing.  It could be as simple as an object, such as your hand or shoe, or as advanced as a 3-day still life drawing.  We created a basic, adjustable rubric that included the categories: (1)Technical Accuracy (shape, proportion, contour, detail), (2)Shading/Value (light source, gradient scale, shadows and highlights), (3)Line (range of lines, both real and implied), (4)Composition (positive and negative space, fully developed drawing), and (5)Craftsmanship (no tears, smudges, folds, etc; artwork created and maintained in a professional manner).

Now, a lot of our concerns that we discussed included giving the post-assessment.  First, the guidelines say that we must have another person in our room when giving the assessment.  This could be the person who will fill out the assessments (as we cannot assess our students on the final assessment to prevent favoring a student), a substitute, or a random faculty member.  What happens if our district can't provide us this extra person if we decide we will be doing a 3-day still life drawing?  Unfortunately this isn't something we can's a district responsibility.  I know at my district, it's virtually impossible to find subs at the end of the year.  Hopefully, the districts across the board will report back to the state that it is nearly impossible to do this, or we will have to actually have a testing time to give our assessments at the end of the year.

Our other concerns with the post-assessment is how much we can guide students during it?  Do we just tell them to draw a still life based on what they've learned?  Tell them they have 3 days to do it?  Or can we give prompts..."Remember to check your cast shadows!"  True, this is a final assessment and students should be able to do this based on what they've learned without prompting, but how often do you do an art project that you don't have to remind students what to look for, or give students the extra prompting so they do their best work?  Obviously we can't draw for them, which hopefully not very many art teachers do anyways.  We decided that the best way to "get around this" or deal with that questions was to create a check list for the students to attach to the back of their project.  When the student thinks they're done, we can flip it over and review the guidelines with the student to easily point out that they need to go back and check their value scales...similar to the way someone administering a regents exam might pick up an early finishers exam only to find they didn't fill out questions 1-20 on the multiple choice and will tell them to go back and do it.

And remember when I said all my assessment rubrics were completed, but may need some tweaking?  Well, they do.  Not in terms of what I am assessing, because those are what I assess when I look at the projects, but in my wording.  I created my rubrics based on Marzano, and even though that is the system my school is using, I can't use his wording of "with assistance" and "could not complete even with assistance" because we technically aren't supposed to assist the students during these final assessments.  At least it won't be too much work to re-word my rubrics!


  1. Is this assessment the same for K- 12? If you can't assess your students on their post- assessment who does? are they a certified art educator? You mentioned having another teacher or a sub in the room with you during assessments... sorry I'm confused! I am in a small disrict and I am the only K-5 art teacher. How many art teachers are in your district?

  2. We don't have to have someone in our room during Pre-assessment, unless your district wants it. We have to have another person in our room as another proctor during the post assessment only, just to make sure we don't give kids the answers or help them. We have to run our assessments in accordance to the rules of the state exams...and as of this year, when teachers went to grade their state tests, like 3rd grade math, they were not allowed to grade their own students tests.

    So basically, when it comes time to do post assessments, it will be up to your district to decide how to handle those testing regulations for the non tested subject areas. They may hire someone as a sub to sit through your assessments, or they may give a sub to the other art teacher so he or she can sit in (if you have more than one). So for example, the high school art teacher may have to get a sub for 4 days to come in and view my administration of the assessments. If you don't have another art teacher, it could be one from another district or the music teacher, depending on district decisions.

    When it comes to grading them, we cannot grade our post assessments, again to make sure we don't favor any students. What you have to do is make sure the art teacher (whether from your district or from another) gets the rubric and has the Pre assessment work as well (in the case of special needs students who show minimal growth...the example given was drawing a landscape and the student just draws a frame with a stick figure in the pre, and a frame with a single tree in the post...for a kid with autism that may be a huge improvement for that kid, even though he or she didn't exactly follow the guidelines). They also suggested having a regional assessment day where all art teachers meet at a central location in their county and swap projects and rubrics to grade.

    My district has an elementary art teacher (me) and a high school teacher. Unfortunately for her, she will have a lot more projects to assess at the end of the year than I will because my enrollment is so high compared to hers, unless we decide to do a regional assessment day...does that help at all?

    1. How many days a week do you see your actually be able to see results from your lessons? I teach at 2 elementary schools.. 2days a week with a rotating Wed. in Bedford County, Va. It is really hard to see any kind of long term retention of some of the principles and elements learned in art. We also incorporate SOL's as well from the common core areas. We base our results on a teacher goal set up with our home base school. Our results are based on our yearly evaluation. At the elementary level our grades are based on active participation and effort. It seems like you are based at a school everyday for part of the year and then move to middle, and high school.

  3. Oh, and the rubric for an observational drawing (whether a self portrait using a mirror, a still life, or drawing your shoe) is one we created as a regional assessment that we can use all the way up from k-12, with appropriate tweaks and language for the grade levels. I don't plan on using it, but if the state approves it, it will be a tool to compare my personal rubrics to in order to that they are "rigorous and comparable"

  4. Holy Moly! So this is an assessment you all designed to be used as your part of the state testing? The state dept of Ed developed ours and we don't have a say in it. When its testing time its like dealing with government secrets and everything is very controlled and monitered. Right now special subjects in NJ are not part of state testing( the state tried to come up with a test for us but could not develop anything that worked and just gave up after a few focus group districts) so my evaluations are only for the district. I have had to proctor students for our state testing for other subject areas though. We have a lot of students with modifications and the counselors end up pulling the special subject teachers sometimes to help test. From what I understand from a conversation I had with one of the curriculum directors is that our state testing is going to be changing again after this year. The contract is up with the group who put together the test we are using now and they are thinking of going in another direction. We'll see... I'm sure that plan will change many times before we see it!

  5. Yeah, we are thinking that the state is going to have to change their testing criteria for the special areas too. It's going to be virtually impossible to get a second person in our rooms to proctor these assessments, especially if they take more than one period and we only see these kids once or twice a week. I can't imagine how larger school districts are going to do this!

    In NY, we have been told that for our SLO's, which have to be created for 51% of our population and count for 20% of our A.P.P.R. evaluation, that we can choose to use a regional assessment or a local assessment. We got together to try and create a regional assessment yesterday, since art doesn't have any time of assessments created that are state certified.

    When creating our assessments for SLO's, we have to either use the regional assessment or a local assessment that has been created by us, approved by an administrator, and apparently sent to the state to be approved as rigorous and comparable to what other art teachers are doing in our area...thus the regional assessment.

    You said NJ developed you know what your assessments will involve yet? Will it be an actual art project or an actual test? Do you know if they are creating different evaluations for each grade level?

  6. Sorry if I confused you. There is no state testing for special subjects. NJ developed what is called the NJ ASK. it is the state test that is administered to grades 3-12. There are different names for it at the middle and high school level. the state attempted to create a standardized test for the arts but found it was not viable in many ways. Plus some of the test questions on the samples I saw from the early test were ridiculous! They had a question for fourth grade about art in the Byzantine period! Seriously?! The sample testing they did bombed and it was put on the back burner because they needed to focus on tweeking the general ed sections. At this time there is no state evaluation for the arts, just what I do district wise. This school year I gathered together all the special subject teachers to work together on assessment for our PLC this year.(Professional Learning Community) I spent a lot of time this summer researching different ways to show concrete assessment of what the student has learned. One of the meetings I have to attend during our in-service before school starts is about assessment in special subject areas. I'm curious to see if they have anything new to offer that I have not come across yet. I have K for the first time but since I will not be giving them grades I am going to keep an assessment portfolio for each student made up of " I can..." sheets and I will have them complete them following projects/units. I am making the sheets like activities so they don't feel like they are work. Some will repeat so I can see how they have grown through the year.( eg. drawing a picture of themselves Sep., Jan.and May) 1st and 2nd are going to be filling out"2 stars and a wish" after a project to start. I will change it up as the year progresses to see what works the best. 1st won't start doing them for a while since they have to write. 3-5 will have to complete an Exit Slip following each project. It will have to be with their project in order to be graded. I am attaching their rubric to it for their grade. If I don't have a slip they won't get a grade. I will have questions on it that will assess what they learned from the lesson. I'm exhausted just thinking about it! All this is very different from how i assessed in the past so I am interested in seeing how it all goes.

  7. I know! NY is the same way...we have math, ELA, and science tests for 3-8 (though with A.P.P.R., only math and ELA aren't counting towards the regular teacher's evaluations). Then 9-12 have state Regents exams for English, Math, Science, and Social Studies/Global. They tried creating a Regents for the arts in the 90's when I was still in school, but that flopped also. So now, with the A.P.P.R., we have to create our own assessments and NO ONE can agree on what to assess students on in art because we all teach art slightly differently to all the levels! We don't necessarily have to do assessments all the way through the school year or course (aside from what we would normally do for grades) but we have to give the pre-assessment to get a baseline reading to find out what our students are capable of and then the post-assessment as our "exam" at the end of the year to show growth.