At long last! We have been using your rubric reflections to inform and shape our work for this year but have been remiss in reporting back to you. We have often made the joke that we need a rubric for the rubric pilot – that is, a systematic way to organize the range of experiences with the pilot process. But don’t worry, we’re not making another rubric (and yes, that’s our idea of a joke in the Research Department).
In a nutshell: there were a range of experiences around the pilot. Most teams found the rubric a helpful tool, but some found it too burdensome or irrelevant to their day-to-day planning and activities. Most teams seemed to find at least some part of the process valuable.
For each section below, click on the “+” icon for more information.
what did we learn about the rubric and the pilot process?
- There is power and value in collective conversation and reflection, particularly when it helps surface new ideas and inform future planning in concrete ways.
- “Grading” a project in the rubric generally less useful and may demand that teams come to a consensus where it doesn’t exist. There’s richness in exploring disagreement or different perspectives—that’s where a lot of the “good stuff” is!
- There isn’t normally time for these kinds of “1000 foot” conversations. Opportunities to reflect this way as a group leads to new insights and is necessary to appreciate (and celebrate!) past successes. It’s especially hard to see once the project has become systematized or normalized within a school. (When arts education is the “new normal,” it becomes less visible in some ways).
- The rubric is less helpful as a point-in-time measure of where a project is; it’s more helpful when it serves as a lens to see where the program has been, where it is now, and where it’s going. Seeing, defining and discussing that progression is crucial to planning.
- For most teams, reflecting on two principles is plenty, and reflecting on all seven is too many. It is very clear that the process is most beneficial when your team chooses what principles resonate and are relevant to your program. Having teams look at all seven principles works in some cases; in others, the process was overwhelming, too time-consuming and repetitive. (This is likely partly attributed to the interconnected nature of the principles)
How did teams do the pilot?
As for the pilot process, teams went in many different directions, finding variations that worked for them (there are 18 teams, and at least 18 ways to do the pilot!). Each team involved between 2 – 7 individuals in the pilot. Most consisted of 4 individuals, which seemed to be a manageable number to meet and discuss while ensuring that everyone’s perspective was heard.
Here are some examples of the processes teams used to complete the pilot:
- Open/OPEN worked independently, gathering feedback from staff prior to meeting in person to reflect and discuss.
- Sisters met as a whole team to brainstorm the approach, met again to write a draft for the first principle and discuss the others, and then divided and conquered.
- Sunriver La Pine started by reviewing the rubrics for all seven principles individually, determined which two had the strongest ratings and evidence and concentrated on those. One team member took that information and created a draft, which was reviewed at the next team meeting and then sent around for another round of edits.
What did teams learn through the pilot?
You let us know that there were lots of “a-ha” moments during the pilot. This is just a selection of the insights that teams had. These examples speak deeply to the work that you are doing to embed your programs, the frustrations when aspirations don’t (or can’t) align with reality, and how you are affecting culture change around arts education in schools and communities.
Shedd Agnes Stewart: It definitely was helpful to see the progress that we have made. A couple of main insights—we were reminded about how vast and wide our goals had been originally. We had the best of intentions yet had a fairly open goal of bringing access to music to all of our community. As we have narrowed our focus a bit—really focusing on instrumental coaching during the school day and opportunities during the school day for all of our students to experience music appreciation—we have found much more success. We also realized how “normal” and integral this program is to our school community now. This is simply how we teach music and I believe is how our students expect to learn music.
CAM Sunset: We did have some differing viewpoints about where we were in the rubric. Some of the differences were because of the different perspectives from which we experience the work being done with our project. Two of us are very involved in the day-to-day art classroom experience with the students, classroom teachers, and teaching artists, and two of us are school staff members and see the progress from the angle of academic classroom staff and how the school as a community seems to be reacting to the program. These differences in thinking have never been expressed before… Having this diversity in the team creates a variety of expectations and outcomes that we must listen to, work through and solve – it’s a good thing. We have to express our viewpoints so we can reach success from all directions.
AEIG Hood River: [This process] was effective in helping us to identify the current state of our project and to establish that we have a shared understanding of the strengths and opportunities for growth within our project. We identified the need for a more formally developed plan for financial sustainability. We know we will have to reduce some programming and will keep that which is integral to keep the program thriving. We all agreed that we wished we had more time in our days for this type of thoughtful examination of the work on a regular basis and as a result, we plan to schedule regular meetings for reflection not just program planning and logistics.
SBMF Lincoln City Schools: Team members expressed generally positive feelings about how project accomplishments in 2018 surpassed what we originally conceived of as possible in 2014.
Three Rivers IRVAC: Our programming may be more innovative than we thought. The process mostly made us dream about what our program could look like if we had fewer economic restraints.
Harney County: Having come from no art in the middle school to a full-fledged art program with art in the middle and high school along with a music program is a large step for the Burns-Hines schools and Harney County community.
So... what are we doing with all of this information?
In the short-term, we have used many of your suggestions and insights to do another round of edits to the rubric. The rubric isn’t “final” yet, but it’s closer to being ready for public release.
We’ve done a lot of thinking and planning about how best to use the rubric this year, especially within this Studio to School community. We’re currently planning our last round of site visits and will be having a principles discussion with each team. We’ll be using the rubric as a lens to look at the principles that you have chosen, and tracking projects’ development and progress over time. We hope that this will be a helpful way to tell the story of how your projects have developed, grown, addressed challenges, persevered and pivoted. (For more about our plans for the year, and what the visits will look like, click here.)
Using the rubric as a conversation tool will help us organize all of the many lessons the group has learned through the initiative and provides a platform for us to capitalize on the most helpful components of the rubric: the opportunity for discussion, 1000-foot-level reflection, and talking about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.
All in all, this pilot was a tremendous amount of work, at every stage, and we are in awe of you all, and the thoughtfulness, commitment, and tenacity that you bring to your work each day, and to this evaluation process.
We think often about a comment from Marna (of the RACC Hillsboro team), which she shared at a rubric pilot debrief meeting that we had with a group of arts education stakeholders who have helped to shape and review the rubric along the way. One of us was remarking about how laborious this process has been: painstakingly writing and re-writing the rubric, getting lots of input from teams and working to incorporate all of it, and using the rubric as a lens for project progress. Marna, in her infinite wisdom, turned to us and said, “well, it’s supposed to be hard.”
And of course, she’s right. With this rubric and the pilot, we’re trying something new, looking at all of our work in a different way, and forging a path were there hasn’t been one before. Rubrics (and processes) like this do not already exist. It’s hard. It’s time consuming and stretches us all to think about our work in ways that are different, challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable. We appreciate you all being along for the ride.