Ushering in the New Year with Adaptation

By Kathy Dewsbury-White

2022 marks the 10th year for the MAEIA Project. The first seven years were about outlining the structure of the organism.  We articulated what gold standard arts programming looked like, we built a robust catalogue of performance assessments aligned to state and national standards, and we developed tools that permit districts to benchmark their current state and plan for growth. We accomplished all of this with the aim of increasing access to quality arts education for Michigan’s K-12 students.

The past two years found us responding to drivers of change exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the structural inequities laid bare in our public institutions, especially our schools. Thus, our story of development in 2022 and beyond is going to be one of adaptation. If we borrow terminology from anthropology, we will be engaged in a form of cultural adaptation wherein a population deliberately modifies behavior on the basis of their perception of the world to maintain certain conditions, cope with hazards, or adjust to new conditions. (Howard, P.L., Pecl, G.T. Introduction: Autochthonous human adaptation to biodiversity change in the Anthropocene.)

Maintaining Conditions

The foundation of the MAEIA resources is the understanding that arts programming derives from articulated and sequenced standards with aligned assessments and instruction supported by certified arts educators. The catalogue of 360 performance assessments will be reviewed and opportunities for updates will be identified with special attention to culturally relevant prompt material and genres, opportunities to incorporate use of SEL strategies to support instruction, and opportunities to make interdisciplinary connections.

The MAEIA website is maintained to serve the user in an intuitive and interactive manner. While the catalogue of assessments and all accompanying resources were originally created for a virtual life and e-environment, now this has become more important than ever. We will continue to supply quality resources at no cost to educators irrespective of the school district’s funding base. We anticipate continuing to build the strong community of users through virtual engagements.

The expertise of over 1,000 arts educators in Michigan built the MAEIA resources; now those who use the resources can help to refine, maintain, and improve them. One activity planned for 2022 is the development of a course designed to certify arts educators in scoring assessments for colleagues; stay tuned for details on how to become involved. You are invited to learn more about the power of collaborative scoring and its potential to improve both teaching and learning.

Coping with Hazards

Perhaps the greatest threat to increasing access to quality arts education programming for Michigan students is the blind neglect that occurs when we under resource the K-12 public education system in total, narrowing the curriculum and necessarily limiting scant resources to basic needs. These last 20 months of the pandemic have stressed our system to the point where we risk drawing our focus away from serving the needs of the whole child, which essentially includes access to rich and robust learning opportunities in all disciplines.

“Only a whole child approach aligned across curriculum and instruction, school climate and structures, and professional development and student learning can truly ensure that each child, in each school, in each community, will be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged for long-term success in college and career and civic life.”  (ASCD, A Whole Child Approach to Education and the Common Core State Standards Initiative)

It is a credit to the Michigan Department of Education that they maintain support for the MAEIA project. In recent years, they have been joined by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to focus on the outreach necessary to get the MAEIA resources into the hands of arts educators in Michigan’s school districts. Follow this link to read more about the history and evolution of the project.

Growing our base of partners is a strategy we are pursuing to better address our goals of promoting program improvement and student and professional learning in arts education. We are always looking to expand our community, and we invite you to learn more about what it means to be a MAEIA Partner or Friend.

Another adaptive strategy MAEIA has adopted is maintaining seamless integration of our program improvement tools with the Michigan Department of Education’s Integrated Continuous Improvement Process (MICIP). Learn more about both the MAEIA Program Improvement Tools and Process and the MAEIA Strategy Guide. The Strategy Guide is the document explaining how MAEIA program improvement occurs inside MICIP. It has been uploaded to the MI Strategy Bank and is used by Michigan school districts and their ISDs/RESAs.

 Adjusting to New Conditions

More reliance on virtual learning has meant shifting more of our content for arts educators to both synchronous and asynchronous learning and engagements. We will be taking the tried-and-true topics we have offered, while adding important new topics, to ultimately launch a MAEIA Academy in 2023. We anticipate districts and individual teachers will use the courses to fulfill District Provided Professional Development (DPPD) requirements. Initial course topics will include Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness, Social Emotional Learning In and Through the Arts, Arts Education Advocacy, Culturally Responsive Teaching In and Through the Arts, and Formative Assessment in the Arts. For a short preview of coming attractions, read SEL in and through the Arts, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Formative Assessment.

Engaging the MAEIA Project in intentional adaption in 2022 and beyond means that we envision a future for Michigan students that promotes a well-rounded education including the arts, because we believe the arts are essential. We hope you will join us on our continued journey.


Howard, P.L., Pecl, G.T. Introduction: Autochthonous human adaptation to biodiversity change in the Anthropocene. Ambio 481389–1400 (2019).
ASCD, A Whole child approach to Education and the Common Core State Standards Initiative
MI Department of Education, MI Integrated Continuous Improvement Process MICIP Overview and Mindset


Kathy Dewsbury-White serves the Michigan Assessment Consortium as current president and CEO. The MAC is the organization commissioned by MDE to develop the rich and robust resources developed through the MAEIA Project for arts educators. Kathy has provided project direction for MAEIA and is a self-described resource wrangler and advocate for arts education.







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