Monday, June 29, 2015

New Arts Standards: Creating, Performing, Responding and Connecting

This month, Kentucky took a giant step toward new arts standards, with the Kentucky Board of Education holding a second reading and a vote to adopt the National Core Arts Standards as part of our Kentucky Core Academic Standards.  The documents are attached to item VI in the KBE June 2 agenda.

There are still several more steps towards a final adoption, but this is a good time to start thinking about what these standards may mean for Kentucky students. Accordingly, here are some notes on major features I've noticed in a first round of study, followed by some questions that still puzzle me about how these arts standards will work.

Dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts are included, with media arts as an important and innovative entry.    

Anchor Standards 
Eleven overarching standards apply to all the included disciplines: three each for creating, performing/presenting/producing, and responding, plus two for connecting. As an example, the second anchor standard calls for students to "Organize and develop artistic ideas and work" as part of the creating process.

Performance Standards for Each Level
For elementary and middle school, there are year-by-year standards specifying what students should know and be able to do for each anchor in each discipline. As an example, in the section on visual arts and that second anchor standard:
  • Kindergartners are expected to "Use a variety of art-making tools" 
  • Grade 4 students should be able to "Explore and invent art-making techniques and approaches" 
  • Grade 8 students should "Demonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of art-making or designing"
For high schools, the performance standards describe proficient, accomplished and advanced work for each anchor and discipline, but without assigning elements to be developed each year. That gives high schools the flexibility to set up their schedules in multiple different ways. To complete the visual arts example:
  • Proficient high school students are expected to "Engage in making a work of art or design without having a preconceived plan"
  • Advanced high school students will be able to "Experiment, plan, and make multiple works of art and design that explore a personally meaningful theme, idea, or concept"
To go with the examples above, visual arts also has performance standards for the rest of the eleven anchors, and the other four disciplines also address the full set.

My Current Puzzles
Do remember that this post comes from my first round of study. It's completely possible that there are answers to all these puzzles and I just haven't found them yet. Reader comments or e-mails pointing out what I've missed will be deeply welcomed! 
Puzzle 1: Creative writing isn't in these arts standards and it also doesn't seem to be in our English language arts standards. Is artistic mode now optional while the others are required parts of what students learn?

Puzzle 2: If a student meets the anchor standards, do we say that they are ready for college and career? For participation in the arts? For artistic engagement in their communities?

Puzzle 3: Are we aiming for all students to reach the high school proficiency level in all five disciplines? The accomplished or advanced level?  These are really bold, exciting standards, and reaching all of them could mean big changes in the high school experience.

Puzzle 4: The performance standards do not identify specific artists and works for students to study. By comparison, Shakespeare and the Bill of Rights are included in our standards for English language arts as requirements and a handful others are listed as examples right in the grade-level expectations.  Will students get the connections they need to the greatest works of the past with that kind of silence?

Even while puzzling, I think I'm seeing an opportunity for much greater clarity about what we want all students to know and be able to do under these new arts standards.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


699 is small, painful and worth remembering.

699 is the number of Kentucky students with disabilities who were ready for college, career, or both when they graduated from high school in 2014.

699 is a tiny fraction of:
  • 3,092 graduates with disabilities in 2014
  • 4,051 grade 11 students with disabilities who took our writing assessment in 2013
  • 4,744 grade 10 students with disabilities who took our writing assessment in 2012
  • 7,858 grade 5 students with disabilities who took our assessments in 2007
699 is small, painful, memorable, and worth serious attention.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kentucky Tonight: Five Key Educational Issues

Here's a link right to Monday night's great discussion, featuring Prichard's own Brigitte Blom Ramsey. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cory Curl! Named Associate Executive Director of Prichard Committee!

Here's today's press release from the Prichard Committee:

 LEXINGTON, Ky. – Education advocate and policy leader Cory Curl has been named associate executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Curl’s appointment is effective September 7, 2015. She will succeed Brigitte Blom Ramsey, named recently as executive director of the statewide education advocacy organization.

A graduate of Guilford College in North Carolina, with a bachelor’s degree in geology, and the University of Kentucky Martin School, with a master’s degree in public administration, Curl has been a senior fellow for assessment and accountability for Achieve, Inc., since January 2012. Achieve is a national nonprofit organization that helps states achieve their education goals with technical assistance, research and development, and tools for advocacy and communications.

“Cory has the perfect mix of public policy expertise and experience in education related advocacy. She is committed to ensuring the best education for future generations of Kentuckians. We couldn’t be happier that Cory has agreed to help lead the Committee’s efforts,” said Ramsey.

Curl, of Versailles, has an extensive background in education policy. Her experience includes working as a consultant in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement; director of the Tennessee Department of Education’s education delivery unit and director of policy and planning for the department; and as a research analyst and policy advisor for state and national organizations.

She became a member of the Prichard Committee in 2012.

“The Prichard Committee has such a remarkable history of articulating educational aspirations for the Commonwealth – and of harnessing the energy and commitment of its citizens to translate these aspirations into action and impact. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work under Brigitte’s leadership to continue in this tradition, partnering with citizens, policymakers, teachers, parents and students to accelerate Kentucky’s educational progress into the top tier,” said Curl.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

For Father's Day and Kentucky's Best Heritage

I'm a historian's child, and as a result, a big fan of the work of the Rosenwald Fund, and its long-time leader, Edwin Embree, grandson of Berea's John G. Fee.  Especially, this tale:
In May 1948, one month before the Julius Rosenwald Fund was to close its doors forever, Edwin Embree received a letter, posted in Lexington, Kentucky. It came from a guidance counselor at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Sadie M. Yancey. Ms. Yancey had just won a Rosenwald fellowship, one of the last to be granted. After thanking Embree, she reminded him of an incident involving his grandfather that he had described in Brown America.

Toward the end of the Civil War, when John G. Fee was at Camp Nelson, he entered the faculty dining barracks with a young black woman recently appointed as a student/ teacher. When they sat down at a table, several other diners—all white—moved away; a chaplain from Maine stormed from the building; and the waitress refused to serve the young woman. As the tense scene unfolded, Fee was given a filled plate. Immediately he passed it to his companion and insisted, vigorously, on another plate for himself. That woman, Yancey wrote, was her grandmother, Eliza Mitchell Jackson.

Often she had heard her grandmother tell that story and other stories demonstrating Fee’s “humanitarianism and great courage.” Her grandmother and grandfather, Yancey reported, became “two of the most outstanding contributors to the progress of their race in Lexington.” She told Embree this connection now, Yancey concluded, because she considered it “rather singular that your grandfather was instrumental in the continuance of my grandmother’s education, and you, though unwittingly, have been instrumental in the continuance of mine.”

 In a gracious note, Embree responded that the story remained vivid in his own family. Even as a small boy growing up in Fee’s home, Embree recalled, he had recognized he was “in the presence of greatness.” With his grandparent and Yancey’s in mind, Embree wrote, it was “especially fitting that the grandchildren of these two pioneers should find themselves in association.”
That's from "Living the Fee Legacy: Edwin Embree and the Rosenwald Foundation," published in the Winter 2006 Berea College Magazine.

Even if you don't know the Rosenwald fellowships, you  know the talent they nurtured.  Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial after returning from a fellowship-supported tour of Europe; Charles Drew's work on blood transfusions built on a fellowship-supported final year of medical school, and Mamie Clark's three years of doll-selection research led to the work she published with her husband Kenneth and the most important citations in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.  Here's what I found when I wondered about Ms. Yancey's later work:
Established in 1954, [The National Association of Student Affairs Professionals] has served as a vehicle for student affairs personnel to implement effective and efficient student services and programs for African American and minority students. The Yancey Award was established to honor Sadie M. Yancey, the first president and former dean of women at Howard University, who was instrumental in the development and growth of the organization. 
One more thing: this is post for Father's Day because the Embree article was written by Alfred Perkins, retired Berea dean and professor, known at my house as Dad, and because after pondering all week about how to do more to build up a community where all talents can bloom, I'm looking forward to asking his advice when I call him this afternoon. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Student Voice Team Spotlights Completions (Tripwires in the Courier-Journal)

Check out the great voices in the Courier-Journal's opinion section!  Fresh from the Prichard Committee's Student Voice Team's work on Uncovering the Tripwires to Postsecondary Success, read:
And do let their main argument sink in: college completion results are not what we need them to be, and work to understand and change those results deserves a high spot on Kentucky's education agenda. 

University Graduation Trends (Disaggregated!)

The College Completion web project (spotlighted in yesterday's post) also lets us see more clearly what's changing for students from different backgrounds.

In the charts below, Kentucky public higher education has a clear upward trend in bachelor's degree graduation rates overall and for Asian and white students, with weaker and bumpier results for black, Hispanic, and American Indian students. 

More exactly, these are the rates for students who started school full-time and did not transfer out after that. For example, the 2013 rates are for students who enrolled full-time during 2007-08 year and earned degrees by 2012-13 from the school where they started their college work.

The caveat about enrolling full-time and not transferring does matter a good bit. The 2013 results above reflect 7,826 bachelor degrees going to students who started full time and stayed at the same, institution but the Council on Postsecondary Education reports that 16,568 bachelor degrees were awarded in the 2012-13 school year. That means that the data above tells about half the bachelor graduation story. It's not a complete account of what's happening in Kentucky's efforts to increase bachelor's degree attainment, but it is the part of the story that can be told with the data currently available for public analysis.

(Hat tip to the Student Voice Team for finding the College Completion site while researching its new Tripwire report!)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

College Completion Maps (Bachelor and Associate Degrees)

The College Completion web project (developed by the Chronicle of Higher Education) offers  great detail for all states, with graphics into the bargain.

For example, the site shows vividly that Kentucky's 2013 graduation rate for four-year public institutions is lower than many states, shown by the pink rather than green shading of our state.

On the other hand, our two-year public institutions are doing better than quite a few states, as shown by the shading in light green.

There is a caveat on both maps: they show graduation in 150% of expected time by students who enroll full-time and never transfer.   That full-time, stay-at-one-school information is what each institution reports out, so that's what the maps are able to show.

The 2013 results above reflect 7,826 bachelor degrees going to those students who started full time and continued at the same institution.  However, Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education reports that 16,568 bachelor degrees were awarded in the 2012-13 school year.  For the associate map, the results reflect 2,370 degrees to the full-time, stay-put cohort, but CPE reports 9,713 associate degrees earned in 2012-13. 

That means the maps above tell about half the bachelor story and about a quarter of the associate situation. They're not complete accounts of what's happening in Kentucky public postsecondary completion, but they are the part of the story that can be told with the available public data.

(Hat tip to the Student Voice Team for finding the College Completion site while researching its new Tripwire report!)