The National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) include five arts disciplines: Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts and Media Arts. The standards provide the foundation for arts education for all students. These standards are an effort to articulate the most fundamental elements of the arts, in the hope that by doing so there will be recognition that every student can and should achieve arts literacy.

The standards emphasize deep learning in the arts and create high expectations that support college, career and citizenship readiness for all students. Student learning through these standards explores the full scope of what it means to be an artistically literate citizen because they are structured using the artistic process: creating, presenting/performing/producing, responding, and connecting. While presented chronologically, the artistic processes are best taught in a blended fashion.

How Are the New Standards Organized? 

The five Arts disciplines are unified by common Artistic Processes and Anchor Standards. The Core Arts Standards include two levels of standards: Anchor Standards and Performance Standards. Anchor Standards are overarching standards; statements of what students should know and do in all of the arts as a result of their PreK-12 education. The Anchor Standards are reflected as statements about what it means to Create, Present, Respond, and Connect in the sample Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements with Performance Indicators. Performance standards are statements of what students should know and be able to do, in a particular artistic discipline, by the end of a specific grade or level. Performance Standards, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Questions help to inform teaching grade-by-grade. For more information on NCAS please peruse the frequently asked questions section.



National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Resources

Performance Assessments

NCAS has listed Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs at the bottom of the webpage linked) for grades 2, 5, 8, and at three levels in high school. MCAs provide models to aid in the development of performance assessments for students. These assessments are part of an ongoing development process where they are piloted in a diverse array of classrooms across the United States, refined for use in varied settings, and used to generate student work that is available online to illustrate the standards. The assessments are intended to show the ways in which standards serve as a foundation for the creation of reliable and authentic measurements of student learning in the arts. These MCAs are not the definitive assessment of a particular set of skills; rather, they are a model to support and inspire. Ultimately, local determinants are the best judge of how a given assessment serves shared pedagogy and students’ learning needs. Better yet, the MCAs include assessment tools such as rubrics and the benchmarked student work that was used as evidence toward Creating, Presenting, Responding, and Connecting.

More About Each of the Arts Discipline Standards

Visual Art

The Visual Arts include the traditional fine arts such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture; media arts including film, graphic communications, animation, and emerging technologies; architectural, environmental, and industrial arts such as urban, interior, product, and landscape design; folk arts; and works of art such as ceramics, fibers, jewelry, works in wood, paper, and other materials.

Media Arts

The Media arts standards are intended to address the diverse forms and categories of media arts, including imaging, sound, moving image, virtual and interactive. Media arts standards do not dictate what or how to teach, but define age-appropriate outcomes for students, moving them towards the achievement of Enduring Understandings and Artistic Literacy. They are therefore quite generalized, not specifying particular technologies or techniques, and containing very few examples of terminology and activities. The standards allow for a great diversity of instruction, methodology and circumstance. They are adaptive to the wide range of conditions that exist currently for the form across the country.


While the standards in the earlier grades suggest the same rigor and understanding as in the later years, it also must be noted that at each successively earlier grade, there are fewer and fewer theatre programs and fewer trained educators to teach in them. Thus, the pre-K through middle grade standards are largely aspirational—they reflect what should be in our schools and arts programs.


The music standards include four distinct “strands” of high school performance standards reflect the increasing variety of music courses offered in American secondary schools. Ensemble, Harmonizing Instruments, Composition/Theory, and Music Technology performance standards are provided for three levels: Proficient, Accomplished, and Advanced. Because many students become involved in Ensemble and Harmonizing Instrument classes before they enter high school, performance standards for these strands also include two preparatory levels: Novice and Intermediate.

The standards are written on the assumption of quality resources, which include instructional time that spans PreK-8 and continues at the high school level.


The National Core Arts Standards in Dance are rooted in a creative approach to teaching and learning. The standards describe expectations for learning in dance regardless of style or genre. The standards impart the breadth and depth of the dance experience through the art-making processes. It is hoped that the standards are the impetus for dance educators to inspire their students to explore the many facets of dance and to prepare them for a life-long enjoyment of dance

 Adapted from the NCAS resources page.


Email Emily Titterton, or call (802) 479-1378.

Contact Us

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

Web and Document Accessibility Policy​
Public Records Requests

(802) 479-1030 |
Staff Directory | Division Phone Numbers

Connect with Us

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Instagram icon
Google+ icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon