A move toward standards-based education and performance-based assessments is one strategy used in educational reform today. Minnesota has developed new graduation standards and performance assessment packages that wil be used to evaluate students’ level of competency in relation to each content standard.
The purpose of this study was an implementation and preliminary validation of the Arts Performance Standard 6.1 of the Minnesota Graduation Standards in the context of high school orchestra. The procedure used in the study began by obtaining the current assessment package for the Arts Performance Standard for the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning. The assessment package was reviewed and preliminary revisions were made. A survey was completed by eight experienced orchestra teachers to validate preliminary revisions. After further revisions based on the results of the survey were made, the revised package was implemented in the classroom.
Eleven samples of student work were selected to be examined by three experienced high school orchestra teachers and inter-rater reliability (percentage of agreement) was calculated. The results of the calculations individually scored components of each rubric were not within the parameters of acceptable reliability. However, when only overall evaluations were considered, the percentage of agreement increased substantially (+/- 1 scores for overall evaluations averaged 98% agreement). Clearly more research in this area is needed.
This assessment package required an expansion of the goals of instruction beyond correct execution of notes. Historical context, analysis of the elements of music, self evaluation and revision are a few of the facets of the assessment package not historically emphasized in the traditional performance classroom. The emphasis on chamber music necessary for implementation of this performance assessment may be one of the most controversial aspects of the assessment package.
Well written performance assessment packages have the potential to provide music educators with additional tools to help our students become life long performers of music. Music educators must continue to implement and revise assessment packages to meet the changing needs of our students.