Earlier this spring, I had the privilege of attending an event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, for the release of results from last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in music and visual arts (Nation’s Report Card – 2016 Arts). Speakers from around the country discussed results from the assessment, shared videos from various programs that incorporate art into academic study, and led a question and answer session on topics such as art’s impact on their students, skills teachers use to integrate art in other subjects, and community involvement.
The program opened with a video overview of the arts assessment, which is founded on the belief that the arts are essential to every child’s complete development, fostering growth and creativity, providing a strong foundation for a holistic education, and equipping students to navigate through work and life challenges. Overseen by the National Assessment Governing Board and based on an arts framework developed by a committee of artists, educators, and other experts, the NAEP Arts Assessment has been conducted just four times to date: in 1972 (music only) and 1975 (visual arts only), then together in 1997, 2008, and 2016. Rather than reporting on individual students’ performance, NAEP tracks performance by group – such as region, gender, race, and other categories.