Arts Advisory Committee Calls for More Testing of Arts

Last night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting featured a report from the PEP Arts Advisory Committee. The membership of this committee is chosen by the PEP, which means by the Bloomberg administration as the mayoral appointees voted in a bloc for their preferred candidates.

The report was much about how to do more with less given the current funding environment. There was some token acknowledgment of the need to do more with those schools who fare the worst in providing arts education; the Committee recommended giving 75 schools $10,000 next year, $5,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third.

The Committee report was far more urgent when it came to testing. It made clear that assessment of arts achievement is "underfunded" and called for a new battery of tests. When I asked the Committee chairman, Jerrold Ross of St. John's University, what they wanted to test and how, Chancellor Walcott interrupted and called on a DOE staffer to respond. I pointed out that the Committee appeared to have ample credentials and ought to be able to defend its own recommendations. Dr. Ross promised only one sentence and simply offered that we need to "assess skills" as well as "how children think". The DOE staffer went on at length in a similar fashion. Nothing they said necessitated new and costly standardized tests but was clearly part of what a classroom art teacher would do everyday.
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