MAEIA: Looking Forward

By Kathy Dewsbury-White

This is part two of a two-part series that looks back and looks forward at the purposes and achievements of the Michigan Arts Education Instruction & Assessment (MAEIA) project. Check out part one from December.

Writing a retrospective and a look forward as the calendar changes from 2020 to 2021 has the effect of illuminating how important these three driving beliefs have been to our work:

  • Belief #1: Assessment is the engine of learning.
  • Belief #2: Building performance assessments is a joyful enterprise.
  • Belief #3: All human beings benefit from the arts; the creative process can be taught; and arts are an essential part of a public education.

Times of crisis (such as a devastating pandemic) have a way of elevating what is essential.  As we move from 2020 and into 2021, we at the Michigan Assessment Consortium (MAC) and Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) are exercising agility and elevating what is essential through the following actions:

Supporting Instruction through Assessment

We are creating curriculum maps with prioritized standards aligned to lesson ideas and MAEIA performance assessments that lend themselves to remote and hybrid learning environments. MAEIA Leadership Fellows have contributed to this work by understanding examples that focus on fewer standards and connect students with important content.

We commit to deepening our understanding and practice around social emotional learning through the arts. We are concurrently seeking to support the well-being of our arts teachers so that they can in turn support their students. The embodied aspects of dance and movement position us to add to how we are thinking about the development of students’ emotional intelligence and its effect on a capacity to learn and grow. Heather Vaughn-Southard, our MAEIA Professional Learning Director, is leading this exploration.

Supporting Arts Teachers

We are maintaining virtual networks of support through the MAEIA Arts Lounge, a robust discussion board for professional dialogue and through Better Together in the Arts, a monthly virtual gathering for arts teachers who offer and receive techniques and resources to strengthen their practice. Click here learn more

We continue validating our practice through ongoing development and use of the MI Collaborative Scoring System (MI-CSS) powered by OSCAR Classroom. The MAEIA performance assessments can be collaboratively scored using the MI-CSS virtual platform. As our assessment director, Ed Roeber points out:

A challenge with teacher assessment is the lack of independent scoring or marking of student work and the often-prohibitive cost of centrally managed assessment processes for adjudicating work when we are using it to make decisions that have high stakes for educators and their students. MI-CSS provides an alternative with decentralized scoring and, most importantly, provides us with a forum to encourage greater use of performance assessment.

Monitoring the use of MI-CSS has been coordinated by Jason O’Donnell, MAC Director of Business Operations.

We have also continued to offer our Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness Institute designed to support teachers as they assemble their portfolios of evidence.

Supporting Arts Education Programs

We are dedicated to developing implementation, facilitation, and user-type guides to support teachers and districts that elect to use MAEIA resources to improve arts programs. We anticipate in 2021 the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will debut an interactive website for districts to use for their Michigan Integrated Continuous Improvement Process (MICIP) plans. When users search the MI-Strategy Bank designed to support CIPs, they will find MAEIA resources. Kathy Humphrey, PRT Coordinator, leads this work and will provide updates.

We are organizing arts education associations, partners, and advocates to bring a collective voice to our need to identify and employ the levers available to secure arts education programming for Michigan’s public education students. Our advocacy strategy is outlined by Barb Whitney, MAEIA’s Partners Coordinator, in her October 25th blog post, Recognizing Achievement as Advocacy. The activities designed to promote outreach in the state of Michigan continue as a result of the bond between MDE and MAC and have gained necessary traction through a partnership forged with MI Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA). Karrie LaFave, MAC’s Executive Assistant, supports the behind the scenes aspects of this partnership.

Supporting Communication and Arts Educator Perspective and Expertise

The MAEIA arts ed-network website that supports our ability to interact with the field has been redesigned in 2020; MAEIA resources are archived, and links to explanations of each initiative mentioned in this blog post. It also features the library of past blog posts—a true gift for deeper engagement and enjoyment. These posts are authored by MAEIA Leadership Fellows past and present, MAEIA project colleagues, and guest contributors and they are organized for publication by MAEIA Blog Editor Joni Starr. An archive of MAEIA e-Newsletters highlights MAEIA resources, features blog posts, and promotes events, and activities important to arts education. Linda Wacyk, MAC Communications Director, publishes the e-news 5-6 times per calendar year.

Put together, our efforts serve to support the unified statement Arts Education Is Essential, published by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEDAE) in 2020:

The healing and unifying power of the arts has been evident as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country. We have seen and heard it play out through works of art on sidewalks, shared musical moments from porches, in plays and dance performances, and every other imaginable iteration of art making. As states and schools work through multiple challenges in the years ahead, arts education must remain central to a well-rounded education and fully funded to support the well being of all students and the entire school community.

MDE, MAC and MCACA support a strong foundation in the MAEIA resources; collectively we can use them to maintain and sustain quality K-12 public arts education programming for children in the state of Michigan.

For clarification or deeper discussion please don’t hesitate to email at or call at 517.816.4520.

It’s been my privilege and a career highlight on behalf of the Michigan Assessment Consortium to serve as MAEIA Project Director.

Kathy Dewsbury-White is President and CEO of the Michigan Assessment Consortium and Project Director for the MAEIA project, serving as a resource wrangler who identifies and combines people, organizations, and material resources to make things happen.

To learn more about the individual names mentioned contributing to this work click here for the MAEIA PMT or here to read about MAC, scroll to Our Team

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