September 9, 2013

Dear Music Educators:

You are invited to participate in the Common Arts Assessment initiative. This important project was launched seven years ago by the Connecticut State Department of Education; professional organizations and educators from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania subsequently joined the work as partners. The Common Music Assessments designed and piloted through this initiative effectively measure student success in core areas of the music curricula, to improve student learning at both the district and school levels.

The Common Music Assessment project is a “grass roots” initiative. Since its inception, more than 100 music teachers, representing more than 50 school districts across the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, have participated. Their expert design and careful piloting have produced state-of-the-art units/assessments, which have had significant impact on instruction in our state and nationwide. As national attention has focused on the quality of this work, teachers from Massachusetts have joined the process, and will again participate in piloting, refining, and benchmarking tasks.

Too often art and music teachers work in isolation, with limited time to collaborate with other colleagues that teach the same subject and grade level. The Common Arts Assessment project provides an opportunity for skilled, dynamic teachers to work with expert peers to solve common problems in assessment and instruction. The resulting assessments are model units with embedded performance tasks and quality scoring rubrics. Participants have often commented that participation in this initiative is the best professional development they have ever had.

For K-8 music teachers:

In the current phase of this project, we are seeking music teachers to pilot and benchmark several new assessment tasks, which were pre-piloted and refined during the 2012-13 school year. These tasks are aligned with current and new National Core Arts Standards, as well as with the Common Core standards. The tasks include the following:

3rd Grade – Singing and Self-Evaluation
3rd Grade – Bass Line Improvisation
4th Grade – Singing and Self-Evaluation
4th Grade – Composition and Self-Evaluation
6th Grade – Singing and Self-Evaluation
6th Grade – Melodic Improvisation (I, V)
7th Grade – Singing and Self-Evaluation
7th Grade – Composition (I, IV, V)

These new assessments will provide tools for local use that align with our six completed Common Music Assessments. They are designed to guide and assess a logical sequence of instruction, centered on core concepts/understandings and focused on higher level thinking skills that encourage the retention and transfer of significant learning in music.

The six completed Common Music Assessments are listed below and can be accessed – along with benchmarked (a.k.a., anchor set) student work – at http://CTcurriculum.org/. Enter keyword “CTCAA” to find completed tasks (note: ignore those whose titles begin “Copy of”).

2nd Grade - Rhythmic Improvisation
2nd Grade - Singing and Self-Evaluation
5th Grade - Composition and Self-Evaluation
5th Grade - Singing and Self-Evaluation
8th Grade - Composition and Self-Evaluation
8th Grade - Singing and Self-Evaluation

To participate in the K-8 project, teachers must:

  1. obtain administrative permission from their Principal, Music Supervisor, and/or Curriculum Director/Assistant Superintendent, verified via signature on the attached form (use the link at the end of this post).
  2. participate in three all-day professional development sessions during the school year held in Hartford, CT, per the attached schedule. All participants will attend on October 3. Each task team will choose two of the three February and May dates for benchmarking, so participants are asked to reserve all four dates until that choice is made.
    OR
    participate in after-school professional development sessions held in Shrewsbury, MA (4:00 – 8:00 pm dates TBA). We strongly encourage all K-8 teachers participate in the Hartford sessions. The day-long professional development with colleagues from CT, PA and MA has been critical in creating quality units and tasks. However, if a MA K-8 music educator is unable to get release time for this professional development, a smaller cohort will be meeting in Shrewsbury in order to gather data and share at the larger meetings in CT.
  3. pilot and score assessments in their classes, according to the established protocol.
  4. have (or be authorized to acquire) a digital recording device and any other materials needed to carry out the assessment.

A registration form to confirm your interest and approval to participate is attached (use the link at the end of this post), and should be completed and emailed by Thursday, September 26, 2013. Additional materials can be attached to this form if needed.

For high school music teachers:

In our continued partnership with Connecticut, we will begin the process of developing high school ensemble common assessments during the 2013-2014 academic year. The meetings will be held at Shrewsbury High School in Shrewsbury, MA during after school hours for this year. The first meeting will be Thursday November 14 from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm with a light dinner provided. Three further meetings will be scheduled from February – May.

To participate in the high school project, teachers must:

  1. obtain administrative permission from their Principal, Music Supervisor, and/or Curriculum Director/Assistant Superintendent, verified via signature on the attached form (use the link at the end of this post).
  2. participate in after-school professional development sessions held in Shrewsbury, MA. The first session will be held on Thursday November 14 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm (Remainder of the dates TBA).
  3. pilot and score assessments in their classes, according to the established protocol.
  4. have (or be authorized to acquire) a digital recording device and any other materials needed to carry out the assessment.

A registration form to confirm your interest and approval to participate is attached (use the link at the end of this post), and should be completed and emailed by Thursday, September 26, 2013. Additional materials can be attached to this form if needed.

If you may be interested in working on these projects, but have questions, please e-mail Sandy Doneski at sandra.doneski@gordon.edu.

Thank you for considering participation in this important project. Your support will be critical to its final success.

Sincerely,

Sandra Doneski
MA Common Music Assessment Co-Chair

Faith M. Lueth
Immediate Past-President MMEA
MA Common Music Assessment Co-Chair

Assessment Registration Form (pdf)

posted on Sep 16, 2013