The Arts

Parent Guide Resources: New Expectations and Standards

Alabama Course of Study:  ART

The arts-dance, music, theatre, and visual arts-are among humanity's most ancient cultural achievements.  Innate and essential elements of our human nature, the arts shape and extend our ability to think about, manipulate, and symbolize our world.  As creative languages, the arts sharpen and extend the ability to express, understand, and absorb feelings and ideas.  Among the many building blocks of civilization, the arts create, embody, and reveal symbolic structures, ideas, emotions, and expressions that are only available through their specialized forms.  Study of the arts provides students with opportunities to deepen their understanding of the world and their place in it.  Through imagination, they create worlds of their own; and, as they interact with those worlds, they create and enlarge their own humanity.

The Alabama Course of Study:  Arts Education identifies the components of the Grades K-12 arts education program in Alabama.  With the goal of Achieving Excellence Through Arts Literacy, this document provides standards for four arts disciplines-Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.  In each discipline, content standards present knowledge and skills with increasing rigor across grade levels and with attention to developmental appropriateness and vertical alignment in each Grades K-12 strand.  Three distinct and continuous strands-Produce, Respond, and Understand-organize Alabama's academic content standards for all four arts education disciplines.  This organization emphasizes the overarching unity of the arts while recognizing the specialized nature of each discipline.  Production is the domain of the artist, musician, dramatist, and dancer and is also a role of the student of the arts.  Responding and understanding are categories of thinking that are shared among artists and audiences; the latter being a role that all persons play as they engage the arts intelligently, sensitively, and with a knowledge of history, style, context, values, and aesthetics.

While the three strands give continuity and unity to the content standards in the Alabama Course of Study:  Arts Education by using the same general categories of learning from kindergarten through Grade 12, the division of standards into major grade-cluster groups acknowledges the differing developmental needs, skills, and abilities of Alabama's maturing youth, including their varying stages of cognitive, emotional, and social growth.  The standards within the strands in each grade are intended to guide certified arts specialists and classroom teachers as they develop curricula appropriate for their particular students and their own school's range of resources and facilities.

Each of the four arts disciplines includes standards for six elementary grades-kindergarten, 
Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5.  In music and visual arts, standards are also provided for a sixth-, seventh-, or eighth-grade course.  In the arts areas of dance and theatre, courses specifying four levels of achievement are provided for Grades 6-12.  In music, four levels are provided in these grades for both instrumental and vocal music.  In visual arts, four levels are provided for Grades 7-12.  Any of these courses, if taken in Grades 9-12, will satisfy the one-half arts education credit required for graduation.  Standards are also included for Arts Survey, another course that satisfies the arts education graduation requirement.

Implementation of the Alabama Course of Study:  Arts Education encourages attainment of the goal of achieving excellence through arts literacy.  Recognizing the wide variation among schools, along with the diverse content standards within each of the arts disciplines, this course of study includes standards that allow for a variety of arts experiences at all grade levels.  For Alabama students, these experiences will contribute to a sustained appreciation of the arts in later years.