The perfect place to begin this collection of findings: teachers’ attitudes about assessment. Find this survey data online from a 2004 report by Charles Dorn, Stanley Madeja, and F. Robert Sabol, Assessing Expressive Learning.
Over a decade ago, as the notorious and now defunct No Child Left Behind Act began to pressurize US public School systems, three university art education faculties and fifteen public school districts cooperated in a federal and state grant-funded project to research and develop K-12 art assessment models.
Researchers expressed full confidence in the value and meaning of student artwork. It is seen as interaction between the student and his or her environment, reinforcing the perspective that art students are emerging artists who engage in meaning making and artistic expression. There are other justifications for art programs, but this point of view prevails in the current National Core Art Standards anchored by processes of Creating, Presenting, Responding and Connecting, all closely associated with the work of an artist.
How familiar and current are the old survey data?
Survey data gleaned from Assessing Expressive Learning based on the study by F. Robert Sabol in 1999 may seem familiar and current to art educators today.
What percentage of surveyed art teachers . . .
. . . shared assessment results with administrators? >50%
. . . felt parents expected assessment in art? > 50%
. . . believed assessments should be used for instructional purposes? >67%
. . . believed portfolios were the best assessment of learning in art? 58%
. . . believed paper-and-pencil tests were NOT the best assessment of learning in art? 84%
. . . believed assessment was too time consuming? 20%
. . . felt they had enough time to asses students regularly? 54%
. . . felt they did not have enough time to assess regularly? 34%
. . . felt they knew how to evaluate learning in art? 85%
. . . felt they had sufficient knowledge about assessment methods? 51%
. . . strongly agreed that student artwork should be assessed? 82%
. . . appraised art learning as not entirely assessable? approx 60%
. . . felt that personal expression in art could be assessed? approx 75%
. . . felt assessment has had a positive effect on art education? approx 50%
. . . strongly supported assessment in art education? 86%
. . . felt assessment had no negative impact on their art program or the field of art education? approx. 10%
. . . felt assessment had no positive impact on art education. 8%
Negative Impact of Assessment
Drawbacks of assessment as reported by art teachers surveyed across instructional levels, listed in prioritized order:
- Too many students and not enough time to assess.
- Lack of uniform performance standards, guidelines, procedures, inefficient assessment tools.
- Changes the focus of art education from art learning to assessment results.
- Involves too much subjectivity.
- Inability of assessments to measure a broad range of learning.
- Increased student anxiety, lowered self-esteem, emotional upsets.
- Inability to accurately and precisely assess personal expression.
- Stifling of creativity, restrictive.Increased teacher anxiety.
- Lack of assessment knowledge and training.
- Assessments drive curriculum.
- Takes away studio time. (p. 21)
Positive impact of assessment in art
Teachers reported the following positive effects of assessment in art, listed in order of priority:
- Makes students more aware of goals for the program and more accountable.
- Provides feedback for students and teachers about learning shows growth.
- Helps students better understand assignments, improves work.
- Improves student motivation, provides accountability for students.
- Provides credibility for the art education program.
- Indicates whether goals and objectives of the program are being met.
- Improves student self-esteem.
- Improves teaching and makes teachers more introspective.
- Improves students’ understanding of their grades.
- Makes parents aware of the program’s goals.
- Increases respect from administrators.
- Motivates students to work harder. (pp. 21-22)