Monday, May 4, 2009

Arts, practical, portfolio transition

Under Senate Bill 1, arts and humanities will no longer be tested, and neither will practical living and vocational studies. Similarly, writing portfolio scores will no longer be reported to the state and used for accountability purposes.

However, all three are still required parts of Kentucky education.

Arts and practical living remain part of the Program of Studies, which schools are legally required to follow, albeit with the option of modifying the order in which subjects are taught.

SB 1 itself requires annual writing portfolios, saying:
Writing portfolios, consisting of samples of individual student work that represent the interests and growth of the student over time, shall be a required part of any writing program in primary through grade twelve.
To ensure strong instruction, each district will be required to review schools' programs each year, comparing them to state standards and reporting reporting the results to the Department of Education. The Department itself must review each program every other year.

If the standards are strong and the reviews rigorous, we can raise student achievement with this approach, especially for arts creation and performance.

That's a big "if," and one that deserves very close attention, but with the right resources and the right political will, the untested subjects can still flourish.

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