The California Arts Content Standards
The California Arts Standards provide guidance toward achieving a common goal: for all California students to fully participate in a rich and well-rounded arts education. An arts education helps children and youth make sense of the world, communicate their unique ideas across boundaries, and discover who they are as individuals and as members of various groups. Students who experience a quality arts education, one that seeks to honor the aesthetic and enduring over the efficient, have an opportunity to engage in complex and nuanced thinking around meaningful work. Because a sequential arts education, provided as core subject matter, is essential for every California student from the earliest years through high school graduation and beyond, the California Education Code requires courses of study in the arts to be offered to all California students.
Creating and experiencing art is central to the human experience—art allows people to feel and express the range of human emotions and connects people to one another and to their local and global communities. For many, an arts education is only the beginning of a lifelong appreciation of the arts and an enduring sensitivity to the way the arts enrich lives. In addition to acknowledging arts education as crucial in and of itself, many researchers and educators extol the virtues of arts education as extending beyond creativity and artistic literacy to have a beneficial effect in other areas. Arts education boosts school attendance, academic achievement, and college enrollment rates; improves school climate; and promotes higher self-esteem, connectedness to school, and social–emotional development.
The California Arts Standards are organized by the five artistic disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. For each of the five disciplines, there are four artistic processes, eleven anchor standards with aligned enduring understandings and essential questions, and individual PK–12 student performance standards that are articulated as measurable and attainable learning targets.
The standards are based on the artistic processes of creating, performing/producing/presenting, responding, and connecting. These artistic processes are the cognitive and physical actions by which arts learning and arts making are realized. Each of the arts disciplines incorporates the artistic processes that define and organize the link between the art and the learner. Each artistic process branches into either two or three anchor standards. Anchor standards describe the general behaviors, artistic skills, and habits of mind that teachers expect students to demonstrate throughout their arts education. These anchor standards are parallel across arts disciplines and grade levels and serve as the tangible educational expression of artistic literacy. The performance standards, which describe student learning outcomes in each of the specific arts disciplines, align with anchor standards.