Visual and Performing Arts

The visual and performing arts provide avenues for students to investigate and develop a positive sense of self, place, and purpose. Framed in personally relevant and culturally responsive learning, the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) address essential questions and skills to support students in this investigation through five arts disciplines: Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, and Media Arts. NCAS outline critical components of the creative process under the umbrella of four domains (Create, Perform/Present/Product, Respond, and Connect) to guide students through rigorous exploration of skills in artistic literacy. These standards (and arts education in general) emphasize transferable skills through growth-oriented and participant-driven creative outlets to prepare students for college, career, and life.

Continuity of Learning: Arts Recommendations  

Regardless of learning model, students should continue to develop and sustain skills in artistic literacy while demonstrating proficiency in the National Core Arts Standards. Considerations and recommendations for providing these opportunities are described in the Continuity of Learning: Visual and Performing Arts Recommendations and Resource Compendium document. The purpose of this document is to support Vermont programs in providing a holistic learning experience to students while upholding the Education Quality Standards as they pertain to the arts. These considerations can serve to support preservation of the arts in schools and the essential skills and qualities obtained from arts education while balancing the myriad demands on schools and educators during the pandemic: 

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate & the Arts

The visual and performing arts can serve as a pedagogical tool for supporting the performance indicators in the Vermont Portrait of a Graduate. Embedded in the Portrait are key concepts explorable through the arts:


Learner Agency

Ownership • Voice & Choice • High Expectations

Instruction which emphasizes metacognitive processes is critical in supporting self-assessment and self-regulated learning among students, both of which are teachable skills that will prepare students to be independent, life-long learners. Through arts education, students can explore their learner identity and develop a sense of self in a personalized format across media; they can apply their own experiences, skills, and learning preferences to an inquiry- and choice-based artistic challenge.

NCAS Essential Questions: How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art? How do artists determine what resources and criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations? How do artists and designers determine goals for designing or redesigning objects, places, or systems?

Global Citizenship

Interdependence • Diversity Appreciation • Cultural Awareness

The visual and performing arts have long served as a platform for engendering social change; the arts are a form of accessible communication with which issues of social justice can be addressed to a wide audience. Additionally, they exist globally and across cultures, making it a valuable source for culturally sustaining pedagogy and development of cultural awareness. These factors can guide students through making meaning of the world in which they live via the arts, thus developing a sense of place and belonging for themselves and others.  

NCAS Essential Questions: How does art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures? How is art used to impact the views of a society?  How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world? How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through art-making?

Academic Proficiency

Application • Revision • Essential Concepts

In any of the arts disciplines, students are able to determine an overall concept, how they gain understanding and knowledge needed to communicate that concept, strategies to refine and improve upon skills and ideas, and how an idea is best performed or presented to an audience. Adding to both a student’s proficiency and learner agency, arts education allows for monitoring thinking, refining and reflecting ideas, adapting to a challenge, and applying essential content knowledge and skill through critiques and documentation (e.g., sketches, models, rehearsals, performance, products) of collaborative and individual processes.

NCAS Essential Questions: How does knowing and using art vocabularies help us understand and interpret works of art? How do artists and designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective? How does refining work affect its meaning to the viewer or audience?


Perspective • Non-Verbal Strategies • Variety of Media

Communicating effectively through the arts can add to a student’s collaboration skills. Analysis and interpretation of works and pieces from diverse groups of artists supports students in considering multiple perspectives, allowing them to empathize when working in groups, fully reflecting on feedback and critiques, and consider the perceptions of the audience when developing performances, presentations, or displays.

NCAS Essential Questions: How does collaboration expand the creative process? How do artists and designers create works that effectively communicate? How does collaboratively reflecting on a work help us experience it more completely?

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

Authentic Inquiry • Collaboration • Innovation

Critical and creative thinking are at the core of arts education, specifically through exploration of media & concept, ideation, and inquiry. To create a thoughtful and informed work or performance, students must respond to a creative challenge through an authentic process. In the arts, this can be done in a real-world or personally relevant context; students can synthesize information from other disciplines, conduct research on a topic about which they are creating work, respond to an important experience, and determine a personally selected solution to a challenge.

NCAS Essential Questions: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? How do artists determine what resources and criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations?


Interpersonal Skills • Self-Expression • Persistence

Students of the arts explore relationships among colors, lines, forms, shapes, sounds, rhythm, and movement to develop personalized and authentic strategies for self-expression. A major aim of arts education is to support students in understanding their positive attributes and how to use them to help themselves and others (i.e. a sense of purpose). To do this, students must recognize their fixed and growth mindsets and how each either hinders or supports their development as a citizen. Whether it’s through creating or interpretation of performances or work, the arts education experience provides support for this recognition; students engage in a pursuit to refine techniques and concepts throughout the creative process.

NCAS Essential Questions: How does engaging in creating art enrich people's lives? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work?


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 to communicate targets with students or apply them to measurable criteria in a specific domain or medium.

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 continue to implement personalized, proficiency-based classroom systems.

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


National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Resources


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