The NAEP Arts Assessment: Pushing the Boundaries of Large-Scale Performance Assessment

Authored by: Hilary Persky

Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

Print publication date:  February  2004
Online publication date:  April  2004

Print ISBN: 9780805849714
eBook ISBN: 9781410609939
Adobe ISBN: 9781135612313


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In 1997, the national assessment of students’ visual arts knowledge and skills provoked both excitement and trepidation among many arts educators and educational policymakers. These sentiments were expressed throughout the process of assessment development, administration, and scoring by members of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) visual arts development committee, many of whom had been part of the creation of the arts voluntary national standards and the NAEP arts education framework. Excitement and pride at the prospect of a national arts assessment combined with valid concerns about how fairly a standardized assessment could elicit and measure art making. As stated in the 1997 Arts Education Framework that served as a blueprint for the NAEP arts assessment, “many arts educators worry that an assessment of the arts will artificially quantify the aspects of the arts that seem unquantifiable—inspiration, imagination, and creativity” National Assessment Governing Board [NAGB], (1994). (Audiences also frequently expressed this concern when my colleagues and I spoke to various state arts assessment organizations about the national assessment initiative.)

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