Assessment in the art classroom is a conundrum. On one hand we want to encourage process over product and free thinking. How do can you grade that? Assessment in the art room in necessary on many levels. We need to be aware of our student’s needs and successes. Our students and their parents need feedback. Our schools mandate and require it.
Our VA standards have 5 main categories. Production, Meaning and Creative Thinking, Assessment, Contextual Understanding, and Connections. Each project we do fits correlates to the standards we cover in the classroom. It can be a daunting process to use assessments in the art classroom- but it is required and necessary to give our students authentic feedback and to allow them to assess themselves.
Due to our standards based grading system- we have to classify each of our projects as one of the 5 main categories in order to add them to the grade book. We worked closely with our arts supervisor to come up with which project/activity should go under which category. After working with these percentages, I noticed that Assessment and Reflection might need more weight and I might need to change some things around for next year.
So... how do I assess in the art room?
1. Visual check lists
2. Thumbs-up/ Thumbs-down visual check
3. Tickets out the door
4. Pre and Post tests
Pre and Post tests seem like a difficult thing to do in the art room, but it can be as easy as comparing drawings of a city before and after linear and atmospheric perspective is taught.
5. KWL charts
6. Short answer questionnaire
7. Actual check lists
Students should be given rubrics before the project starts so they know expectations from the beginning. They can also self monitor their progress during the project. Students in my classroom are required to fill out the rubrics and check lists before they turn them in with the projects is order to self-assess and look back at their creative process.
I don't think I follow any specific theory on assessment- I just do what is best for my kids. I'm not influenced by any one person or style or book in particular. I have discovered what works for my students and my assessment strategies have changed and grown over time from that discovery.
I want to point out that ability is never a criteria I grade. I tell students I grade on effort, completion, and mastery of the standards. I let my students grow and experience art without having to worry that they are not good enough. I explain to them that while care and craftsmanship matters, it's the process and the experience that will help them grow.