The National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) include five arts disciplines: Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts and Media Arts. NCAS 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 artistic 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 in the sample Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements with Performance Indicators. as statements about what it means to Create, Present, Respond, and Connect 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.


Learning Target Bank

The Vermont Arts Learning Target Bank is a collection of learning targets aligned to the National Core Arts Standards. The targets are available for all five NCAS arts disciplines: Dance, Music, Media Arts, Theater, and Visual Art. The NCAS performance standards for Kindergarten to Advanced High School have been “unpacked” into learning targets. Educators can use them with students, drop them into proficiency scales, and adapt them to function in rubrics.

The learning targets were created and vetted by Vermont educators to help implement the National Core Arts Standards. They are available to all Vermont educators as they work to transition to personalized, proficiency-based classroom systems.

Media Arts
Visual Art
Title IV, Part A and the Arts Resources


National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Resources

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. They are therefore quite generalized, not specifying particular technologies or techniques, and containing very few examples of terminology and activities. These 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 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 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 Pat Fitzsimmons, or call (802) 828-5896.

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