In this final year of the ArtCore program at Oaklea Middle School, we are focusing on sustainability. Over the past four years every grade level at Oaklea has spent at least one year working directly with an arts integration teaching artist to develop curriculum and initiatives for every classroom in the school. We have seen a complete transformation of the art studio, a space that is now open and available for all classrooms to utilize for arts instruction. We have seen the 6th grade team incorporate a consistent instruction of the Studio Habits of Mind in every classroom so every student that completes 6th grade at Oaklea Middle School has a common language and understanding of arts integrated mindsets.

When deciding upon the three questions we would like to focus our assessment around this year, we began with the question, “What do we need to know in order to advocate for the continued support of this program?” We decided there are some essential elements that must come into play for the impact of ArtCore to continue, which includes:

  • Teachers must feel confident continuing to bring arts integration efforts into their classroom
  • The art studio and available materials for arts instruction must be managed and provided beyond the grant and what the teaching artist had provided
  • The impact of ArtCore on students and teachers must be summarized and clarified for district stakeholders

These needs were the driving factors for our evaluation questions and the type of assessment we have chosen to focus on for this year. The key questions we will be investigating are:

  1. How many hours did each student per grade level receive arts instruction, and what drives and sustains this instruction?
  2. What is the impact of the studio, art supplies, developed curriculum, and ArtCore initiatives on students, teachers, and individual classrooms?
  3. How has attendance transformed through the course of the ArtCore program?

Our methodology for understanding ArtCore’s impact also changed slightly from previous years. In past years we had the additional support of the federally-funded side of the ArtCore program (which included work in four schools in addition to Oaklea). The federal grant had high expectations for assessment and included a core researcher as a major asset to our assessment efforts. While the information collected was valuable, we have decided to focus on fewer, more intuitive assessment efforts that utilize the strengths of our individual team members.

Some strategies we will be utilizing this year include:

  1. Quarterly opt-in interviews with teachers, led by teaching artist Betsy Wolfston.
    1. Each quarter we will focus on one of our evaluation questions in order to collect qualitative data about the perceived and witnessed impact of ArtCore on students, teachers, and classrooms.
      1. Fall Term: Pull stories from teachers about what drives them to incorporate arts instruction in their curriculum and how they have changed over the course of the ArtCore program.
      2. Winter Term: Pull stories from teachers about how activity in the studio impacts the students while they are in the space and when they return to the classroom.
      3. Spring Term: Pull stories from teacher about how students’ attendance and investment in their academic experience has shifted thanks to studio days and other arts initiatives – learn how students express excitement for, mindset shifts during, or inquiries about studio/ArtCore days.
  1. Collect data that allows us to compare Oaklea programming and attendance to district, county, state, and national averages
    1. At the end of each trimester we will have team leads report out on the number of hours of arts instruction each grade level has received
    2. At the end of each trimester we will collect the total number of band and choir programming has been provided, notating the number of participating students
    3. We will pull attendance numbers for the past 8 years (or an alternative number of years available and appropriate for comparison) to assess the impact of ArtCore and other newer in-school programs on student attendance. Principal Corey will be assessing this data to provide a report of impact, pulling on his strengths with data and number assessment.
  1. Once per classroom opt-in implementation of a reflection tool which will allow us to measure the impact of ArtCore on students’ learning and creative choice/autonomy
    1. This tool will be developed by teaching artist Betsy Wolfston and Arts Education Program Coordinator Eric Braman to be utilized in all schools we will continue arts integration work in moving forward. The goal is to develop an assessment tool that feels like a creative opportunity for students, seamlessly merges into the classroom instruction, and benefits teachers’ understanding of their students’ and classroom needs.
    2. This is in alignment with ArtCore and Oaklea’s intention to develop great feedback opportunities between the teachers and students for continued instructional improvement

In past years our focus was on compiling and reporting the specific programming and events that happened through the year alongside the reported and perceived impact of this programming on the students, teachers, and classrooms. In many of these cases we reported the number of hours, students impacted, and resulting products. We will still be able to report on numbers from this year, but this year our focus will be on the data prioritized by administrative leaders (instruction hours, attendance) and stories that communicate the impact on student learning and experience (qualitative story collection). Be believe this multi-format data collection will provide solid numbers alongside stories of impact, which will generate compelling arguments for program, space, and equipment sustainability.

Written by Eric Braman, Lane Arts Council Arts Education Program Coordinator