Posted on 01/19/2018 at 12:00 AM by Blog Experts

On November 15, 2017, the Iowa State Board of Education adopted the Fine Arts Standards. The standards include the disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. A Standards Adoption Team was formed, and meetings were held in February through June of 2017. Meeting notes and agendas can be found here. Although the standards are voluntary, all students should have access to art, music, theatre, dance, and media arts education.

A Guidance Document was crafted to help teachers implement the Fine Arts Standards. Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards were derived from the National Core Arts Standards (2014). The standards are united through a common framework of four artistic processes and eleven anchor standards. The four artistic processes are creating, performing/presenting/producing, responding, and connecting. The standards are conceptually based. This is different from the 1994 standards, which focused on knowledge and skills. Competency in the new standards will allow students not only to make art, but to grow in their abilities to reflect, communicate, critique, and construct meaning—important life skills.

Because the standards were written with a backwards design approach, there are enduring understandings and essential questions that emphasize the big ideas and inquiries of each standard. For assessing the standards, teachers can use a variety of methods. The Model Cornerstone Assessments included in the National Core Arts Standards ( can be used. Additionally, assessments can include student self-evaluations, artist statements, formative and summative peer critiques, informal teacher observation of student work, and/or rubric-based scoring of finished student work.

For each of the fine arts, the standards can be found here. There is also a Quick Start Guide that will help you to understand how to read the standards. Angela Matsuoka is the Fine Arts consultant at the Department of Education. If you have further questions, she can be reached at 515.782.7296 or

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