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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Arts Curriculum Framework Recommended for Approval

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:June 14, 2019

This memorandum updates the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on revisions made to the draft 2019 Arts Curriculum Framework since the close of the public comment period on April 23, 2019. I am requesting the Board vote to approve the revised Arts Framework at your meeting on June 25, 2019.

This revision of the framework retains the strengths of the 1999 Massachusetts Arts Framework and includes these improved features:

  • addition of the discipline of media arts to the existing disciplines of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts;
  • increased emphasis on the importance of creating original work in the performing arts and on presenting in visual and media arts;
  • increased emphasis on responding to the work of other students and work from masters, with a focus on understanding the context in which art works were created;
  • alignment to a consistent structure organized around a common set of artistic practices across the five disciplines to encourage integrated instruction and collaboration; and
  • ambitious standards that highlight the importance of the arts as part of a well-rounded education that prepares students for college, careers, and civic participation.

Summary of Review Process and Public Comment

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) launched the review and revision of the 1999 Massachusetts Arts Framework in October 2017. The Board has received periodic progress reports, including in September 2018. At the February 12, 2019 Board meeting, the Board voted to release the draft 2019 Arts Curriculum Framework for public comment. The Department collected public comments between February 15 and April 23. Respondents (individuals and local arts organizations) responded to a statewide survey, submitted line edits to the draft, and provided in-person feedback at a series of Department-organized feedback sessions. Subsequently, Department staff reviewed all comments and revised the draft framework to address several emergent themes, described below.

Theme: Respondents suggested emphasizing the importance of specific concepts and skills.

  • In response, the Department:
    • Revised content standards to provide explicit examples of when students will learn specific skills and concepts.
    • Revised the section titled "What the Framework Does and Does Not Do" to clarify the importance of local flexibility in determining which technical skills, concepts, and academic vocabulary to emphasize, and at which grade levels or courses to introduce and refine them.
    • Added an appendix for the Development of Singing as an example of skill development aligned to the framework. Future implementation guides will provide examples for all five arts disciplines.

Theme: Respondents requested guidance on balancing instructional time dedicated to the Standards for Artistic Practice.

  • In response, the Department revised the overview section for the Standards for Artistic Practice, emphasizing the flexibility districts have in implementing the framework and specifically the flexibility to balance time spent on each practice.

Theme: Respondents recommended adding language to the framework to describe a well-rounded arts education, such as the importance of art appreciation.

  • In response, the Department:
    • Revised the Vision statement to emphasize artistic literacy and art appreciation.
    • Revised Guiding Principles, including adding a Guiding Principle related to artistic literacy.
    • Added specific connection standards to relate content across arts disciplines and with standards from the 2018 History and Social Science Curriculum Framework.

At the Board meeting on June 25, 2019, Associate Commissioner Ron Noble, lead writer of the revised framework Craig Waterman, and newly hired Arts Content Lead Dawn Benski will present a summary of the revised framework and respond to any questions.

Enclosed with this memo are the following documents:

Download Word Document
A detailed summary of feedback received during public comment,
Download Word Document
The revised draft of the 2019 Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework,
Download PowerPoint File
Review of the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework
An infographic articulating important changes, and
A motion to adopt the 2019 Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework.

Last Updated: June 18, 2019
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