Ten Years of MAEIA Voices: Assessments in Action

By Joni Starr

Editor’s Note: Happy 10th Anniversary Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) project! This post continues our series that celebrates the 10 year milestone. We are highlighting a variety of individual voices telling their stories of MAEIA participation during the ten years and we will look ahead to the next exciting 10 years. e sure to check out past blog posts in the 10 year celebration series.

The MAEIA assessment catalog has been and continues to be an amazing resource for educators teaching in the visual and performing arts. In this blog you will hear from voices in the field who are using the 360 performance events and tasks to engage and assess students and themselves. Special thanks to Kathy Humphrey and Barb Whitney for originally documenting these interviews. B

                                                                                                                                    ~ Joni Starr


Since the publishing of its assessment catalogue, MAEIA has made it a priority to check in with teachers for feedback with questions like: How are you using the assessments? What is the effect of the use of assessments on you and your students? How do you use the MAEIA assessments as part of your educator effectiveness?

This blog post looks back in the archives for answers to these questions from teachers across Michigan. It is impressive how, since the early days and still today, teachers and students have benefited from the assessment catalogue.

How are you using the assessments?

 Kara Kurzeja is a music teacher at Bennett Woods Elementary in Okemos Public Schools. She participated in field-testing the MAEIA performance assessments in 2016 and has been using various assessments with her students since then.  She described the assessments she administers most regularly each year.

Assessment MT101—AB & ABA Form Identification and Composition is Kara’s favorite assessment, because it reinforces the concept of form for her students; it allows them an opportunity for creativity; it is easy to administer; and “the kids really enjoy it.” Kara uses this assessment with approximately 70-80 second graders each year.  She created her own version of the student booklet, which is “much shorter and more streamlined, and only takes up one piece of paper.” It has the pre-assessment on one side, and the directions and a work area for students on the other side. Also, Kara administers the self-assessment portion verbally rather than having students write it down.

Assessment ME107—Create a Different Melodic Pattern is also used by Kara every year, with K-1 students. She replaces the song in the assessment booklet with a shorter tune (varies it from year to year) that takes less time for students to sing and includes more opportunities to create melodic patterns. Kara “loves the thumbs-up/thumbs down self-assessment” portion and uses it with other activities in her classroom.

Assessment ME104—Performing a Steady Beat Accompaniment on Instruments is implemented by Kara with first and second graders; she has used it “pretty consistently” since field-testing.

Cecilia Gollan teaches visual art at Milford High School in Huron Valley School District. She participated in the field testing of the MAEIA model assessments and has since used MAEIA assessments in her classroom. Cecilia works with students in grades 9-12 with most classes mixed for grade levels. This ranges for each assessment between 30-150 students.

Cecilia has used the Performance Task V.T404: Logo Design for a Team or Club and Performance Events V.E420: Kiln Loading Test; V.E437 Writing an Artist Statement, and V.E436 Portfolios. Cecilia said that she first used these during the original pilot program, and she noted “I liked them so much I have continued to use them with different classes.” She also shared that “there are many more assessments I would like to use and I have plans to add them as they fit into our programs.”

Cathy Depentu is a recently retired veteran music teacher. She taught orchestra to 225 students in grades 6-12 in Plymouth-Canton, Michigan. Cathy participated in MAEIA assessment item writing and in field-testing.  She began using MAEIA assessment items with her students in 2012 in their prototype form and has been using them ever since. Cathy said she has “selected a few assessments that work well for her and continues to refine them.”  She described how she implements MAEIA assessments with her 6-12 orchestra students. Her favorites are:

Assessment MT421—Performance Critique she uses with all of her orchestra groups. Although it was designed for high school students, it “works well with all groups,” because she modifies the assessment to include more steps for her younger students.  She also used this assessment as a “learning tool for listening to music after a concert.”

Assessment MT404–Chamber Music is a MAEIA assessment that Cathy used as an orchestra final exam to track student growth in small groups or trios. The pre-test is sight-reading; then, students practice and record the piece three weeks later, sending it electronically to Cathy for review and scoring.

Assessment ME408—Writing Scales Cathy finds useful because it asks students to collaborate to create major scales and then critique one another’s work.

For Cathy, a key benefit of MAEIA is that she “now has scoring rubrics,” which are yielding “more useful data about her students.” When tabulating rubric scores for an assessment, a serendipitous finding arose.  She explained: “When students come to rehearsal, we need to agree on what we’re looking for, what we hear.  When I went through the ratings sheet, I was looking to see if the student groups agreed on what they heard.” Results showed that her middle school students selected a range of rubric responses from 2 to 4, the concert orchestra selected 3s and 4s, and the symphony student ratings, although clustered closely together, they assigned no 4s (highest rating). The results revealed that her higher-level students were becoming more critical in their listening.

Carrie Jeruzal teaches K-12 visual art in Pentwater, and she participated early in the MAEIA process by writing assessment items. She also contributed to the collaborative scoring pilot program, for which she used the grade 6 Performance Task VP307: Art Material and Tool Informational Poster Level. Carrie’s class sizes run between 12 and 30 students, and she has included approximately 70-75 students in MAEIA assessments. She incorporated the use of MAEIA Assessment VP307 in conjunction with the timing of a final exam with a population of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in a combined class setting.

Kellen Deau serves as an art educator within Kalamazoo Education for Employment (EFE), teaching at Kalamazoo Central High School through the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Kellen participated in the use of MAEIA model assessments through assessment writing and scoring, as well as field-testing. Kellen consistently uses MAEIA assessments as a final for advanced students in their junior or senior year and has used it with about 30 students per year. Kellen described her use of the portfolio reflection performance path with her students. She noted its beneficial “flow” with the curriculum; throughout the year students create artwork for clients, contests, and exhibits. She elaborated that using the MAEIA assessments is an adaptable process, which doesn’t feel like an “add-on.”

In fact, she asserted that she would use MAEIA assessments even if they weren’t part of required data for her district. Kellen said, “It really encourages the students even more so to have that as our final exam, to make sure that they are maintaining their portfolio throughout the year, and then at the end of the year we use the MAEIA assessment with the portfolio reflection. That’s just basically looking back at all the work they created throughout the year and reflecting on it seeing where they started, seeing how they grew, which pieces were the strongest, and what plans can they make for next year.”

What are the effects of MAEIA assessment use on teachers and students?

 When asked how use of the MAEIA assessments has affected her students, Kara Kurzeja said she “definitely sees students doing more self-reflection” and that they now think more about what they’re doing while performing. She has noticed students self-monitoring and making comments such as, “I can do better.  I’d like to do it again.” Furthermore, she has observed “powerful” peer interaction related to self-reflection. She described a situation wherein a student tended to be too self-critical and would regularly give herself a “thumbs-down,” but another student remarked to this classmate after a performance, “That was good, better. That was a thumbs-up, not a thumbs-down.”  Kara said she “loves seeing that kind of interaction” among students.  Moreover, the self-reflection has contributed to increased student ownership of learning; it is no longer the sole responsibility of Kara.  Kara described the increased student self-reflection and ownership as “very powerful.”

Cecilia Gollan relayed two areas in which she felt the assessments had primarily affected her students: recognition of assessment in the arts as a valid means of testing, and vision of career opportunities in the arts. Cecilia stated, “It lets the student know that testing in the arts is an option, but that it is not much different from our regular class because they are still producing a piece of work.” She also mentioned that the logo assessment project “has given my students an opportunity to use their art in a real world experience. This also ties into career and career pathways. It gives students a way to see the arts as a career.”

Carrie Jeruzal shared that MAEIA assessments have affected her students’ thought processes. Specifically relating to responses when using MAEIA Performance Task VP307: Art Material and Tool Informational Poster Level. Carrie explained that students were guided to think about tools and media in different ways. She stated, “Because it’s all about safety, I think that it definitely affected my students in how they thought about our tools and our media in a way that they had never really done before.” As an example, she described how the assessment asked students to research how artists used a tool within its designed use and safety. This exercise supported conversation about how, for example, an artist might use an everyday tool such as a stapler in a creative or original way. As a part of the assessment, students created and critiqued safety posters, which required them to examine how they visually communicate information. Carrie said, “It really forced them to be aware of the tools they use, and how they use them, and how they could be used in new and interesting ways.”

Carrie stated that the assessment also required her to rethink how she teaches safety concepts and procedures; specifically, it challenged her assumptions of students’ existing knowledge or understanding. The MAEIA assessment prompted Carrie to pose the question to herself: “Am I really teaching the safety, or am I assuming that they already know the safety?”

Cathy Depentu explained that use of the MAEIA assessments has affected her students positively, in multiple ways. Students experience more individual accountability, take more responsibility for their learning, and are better able to self-assess. Cathy realized that the longer she used the MAEIA assessments, “the more the students do, the less she does, and the further we all go.” Using the MAEIA assessments with her students has caused Cathy “to be more reflective” of what she does.  She feels “more effective and efficient in everything–thinking and explaining things to her students.” She believes that participation in MAEIA has given her “much more well-defined data” for her educator evaluation and for herself.

MAEIA assessments have positively affected Kellen Deau’s students, in part because they collectively recognize the prestige of a statewide assessment. Kellen “encourages them to take the process and the entire program seriously.” She reinforces this concept through portfolio reflection, which builds to the end-of-year assessment and supports students’ professionalism through a culminating event. In addition to emphasizing the value of the assessment with students, Kellen shares student assessment outcomes with parents through their final exam scores. Kellen believes parents recognize the value of MAEIA assessments which then builds awareness in a positive way.

How do you use MAEIA assessments as part of educator effectiveness?

Kellen has used the MAEIA assessments as part of her Domain 5 educator effectiveness evaluation and shared that it was a good experience to educate her administrator on the value of MAEIA assessments. Kellen expressed relief that her evaluation is now related to arts content, rather than her previous hybrid role that forced the incorporation of the social studies curriculum.  She stated, “When it comes to you telling me whether or not I am good at my job, I want to be evaluated on my expertise and not someone else’s. It has really helped me feel more valued in my field and in my content area, because I can say to my administrators, ‘You know, I helped create these assessments, and I am using them because I think they are a good tool, and they have been approved by our superintendent, and here’s the data to show how.’”

Cathy has used MAEIA assessments as part of her Student Learning Objective (SLO) process and her educator evaluation. As a participant in the MAEIA pilot project for Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness (DEE), Cathy and her administrator conducted her evaluation in one of the pilot meetings so participants could observe and learn about the process.  Cathy described her administrator as “supportive and on her side.” Cathy said one of the take-aways from the DEE pilot was that having these resources “shifts the dynamic for teachers from having something being done to them to giving teachers an opportunity to educate administrators about what they do with students.” She specifically cited the DEE “Look-for’s” tool and criteria that help educate administrators about teaching in the arts. Also, she said the assessments provide teachers with data such as rubric scores and recordings administrators can listen to.  Cathy believes these tools and resources help teachers educate administrators and “make them more of an advocate.”

 Cecilia has used the MAEIA assessments as part of her educator effectiveness evaluation by including the data in her year-end reflection. She also mentioned the use of MAEIA assessments as a district-wide initiative, noting, “As a district in the secondary level we have adopted these assessments as a common assessment for specific courses and or grade level. I have considered using them as a capstone project in the future.”

These voices from the field provide clear insight to the use of MAEIA assessments in classrooms and beyond. They are as unique as each student and teacher in measuring authentic growth in the visual and performing arts. Kara summed things up well reflecting on her use of the MAEIA assessments. They have helped her to “think about assessment in a more organized manner.”

Prior to her involvement with MAEIA, she used assessments in a “haphazard” manner. For example, her assessment rubric might need to be revised part-way through the assessment. Kara said that she “always believed in assessment, and now it’s easier to do because the MAEIA assessments provide a clear structure.” So now, MAIEA assessments are a “more frequent part of her classroom routine.”

To find MAEIA assessments to suit your curriculum, search the catalog by discipline, broad keywords, grades, standards, and more. Video resources on using the MAEIA assessments are available here.

Click here for a Printer friendly version of this article.

Leave a Reply