Standards and Assessment

Standards are curricular statements used to guide educators in determining objectives for their teaching. Use of standards became a common practice in many nations during the 20th century. For much of its existence, the curriculum for music education in the United States was determined locally or by individual teachers. In recent decades there has been a significant move toward adoption of regional and/or national standards. MENC: The National Association for Music Education, created nine voluntary content standards, called the National Standards for Music Education. These standards call for:

    Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
    Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
    Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
    Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
    Reading and notating music.
    Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
    Evaluating music and music performances.
    Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
    Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Many states and school districts have adopted their own standards for music education.

Washington State has piloted a classroom based performance assessment which requires 5th and higher grade students to compose music on a staff and sight sing from sheet music without the aid of instruments. It is designed to assess standards expected to be attained by all students. Sight singing is a learning requirement in the state at the 8th grade level. Other states are evaluating possible performance assessments as well.