New Art Standards Raise Bar

By Victor Lee ‘16 and Victoria Cheng ‘16

Stirring up varying opinions, the new National Visual Arts Common Core implementation is viewed with critical lenses by individuals involved in art classes.

The purpose of Common Core Standards is to ensure that students are deemed “college ready.” The new standards are established to maintain an uniform curriculum throughout the nation; it also establishes a consistent guideline of what students from kindergarten to twelfth grade should know and be able to do.

The major themes within the Common Core Standards for art include technique and structure, art throughout history and distinct cultures, evaluation of art, connection to historical themes, and connection of artwork to other disciplines, as well as personal experiences.

Three out of the six major Visual Art Common Core Standards are related to history: the changes through time, thematic and cultural connections, and functions of art, ideas and symbols within art and their connection with historical themes.

The new Common Core standards require students to write multiple essays on topics such as art history, art themes, and art elements. Based off the Common Core Standards, tests now assess the students’ ability to correctly identify art elements portrayed in a given photo.

“I had a student tell me that my class is harder than physics,” said Ms. Dawn Daoundakis, an art teacher.

Additionally, students in art class are not only required to be able to produce creative and distinctive artworks, but also to correctly identify the elements and the techniques that were used in the artwork. Similarly, they must to be able to connect their artworks to common themes found within history as well. The ability to evaluate their artwork, such as improvements on technique, is also heavily focused on by the Common Core.

“They made art so much harder,” Kai Saunders ‘16  said. “It’s supposed to be a relaxing class for students to take a break between classes.”

The new standards require active thinking from the students, such as the ability to analyze their artworks. Critical thinking is one of the heavily focused points throughout all of the Common Core Standards in other subjects.

Joselyne Pimentol ‘16, a past art student, said, “I don’t understand why there are all these new standards. Aren’t the students supposed to express themselves however they want?”

The former students of the art program are appalled by the new standards as they weren’t implemented previously; they feel as though the standards limits the student’s creativity as they are constantly required to connect their artwork with learned techniques and elements. Students are constantly encouraged to have the elements and techniques in mind while creating artworks by comparing and contrasting how well different elements are blended together.

“I forget the elements while drawing,” said Jylene Mendoza 18’. “They don’t really matter much to me as long as I make something awesome!”

While drawing, some students do not have the elements in mind as they are focused mainly on their artwork. However, the grading rubric is focused on how well the students incorporate multiple elements and techniques within the piece.

Prior to the Common Core, state standards were broken into four major categories: the participation in creating artworks, the ability to use art materials, the ability to analyze art, and the understanding of cultural effects of art.

The major focus on the previous state art standards was for students to actively participate in the class and to have the ability to use the materials correctly in technique. However, the new Common Core focuses heavily on students understanding the theory behind art, and the ability to actively use them while creating artwork.

“It’s not like the standards are outrageous,” said Melissa Lee ‘15. “It’s just much harder to get that hundred in the class.”

Although the Common Core standards challenge the students academically, the teachers still currently weigh the students’ work and participation heavily, similar to previous years.

“I feel like there should be standards in art; it’s a class so there should be standards,” said Megan Lee ‘15.

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