Arts Education is a collective term for the four separate and distinct disciplines of Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts, each with its own body of content and skills. Arts Education should be viewed as a full partner in the academic community and fundamental to the total school curriculum. The arts are one of the best ways to teach 21st century skills such as creativity and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; communication and collaboration; flexibility and adaptability; initiative and self-direction; social and cross-cultural skills; and leadership and responsibility.

In August 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) appointed a task force in response to Senate Bill 66: “An Act to Provide a Comprehensive Arts Education Plan.” S66 was ratified on June 24 and signed by the Governor on July 1, 2010. Senate Bill 66 directed the State Board of Education to appoint a task force of members from the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to create a Comprehensive Arts Education Development Plan for the public schools of North Carolina.

Included in this report, at the request of the NC General Assembly, are the Task Force recommendations for implementing a comprehensive arts education in North Carolina schools. The S66 Task Force recognizes a Comprehensive Arts Education Plan to include the following three components:
  • Arts Education (arts as core, academic subjects)
  • Arts Integration (arts as a catalyst for learning across the curriculum)
  • Arts Exposure (exposure to arts experiences)

Public School Law 115C-81 specifies arts education as part of each child's basic education and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) identifies the Arts (Dance, Theatre Arts and Visual Arts) and Music alongside other subjects, like Math and Language Arts, as part of a Well Rounded Education. As part of ESSA, arts education programs and teachers are eligible to receive federal funds through provisions such as Title I, which supports disadvantaged students; Title II, which supports teachers; and Title IV, which provides direct support for arts education.

ESSA is the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into federal law by President Obama on December 10, 2015. The Every Student Succeeds Act reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. ESSA will take effect on July 1, 2016, and schools are projected to implement new policies and procedures by the 2017-2018 academic year.North Carolina and all other states will operate under its current federal plan until the final rules are completed for ESSA, which is expected in the winter of the 2016-2017 academic year. State education leaders are presently developing the new North Carolina plan. (Note: Regulations, rules, and U.S. Department of Education timelines and protocols may impact the draft timeline and plan development.)

The Arts Education team at NCDPI partners with statewide organizations to strengthen understanding of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. NCDPI works with LEAs and Institutes of Higher Education to sponsor two Arts Education Coordinators meetings in the fall and the spring. The Arts Education team works with a cadre of statewide leaders comprising the Arts Education Think Tank, and partners with the Arts Education Leadership Coalition, which consists of representatives from statewide arts education professional organizations, partner organizations, (includingthe NC Arts Council, A+ Schools Program, NC Symphony, NC Museum of Art, SECCA from the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources), and members of the Arts Education Think Tank.

NCDPI partners with Meredith College, the NC Arts Education Think Tank Members, the NC Arts Education Leadership Coalition, and the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources/A+ Schools Program of the NC Arts Council to host the “ARTS R4 Life” professional development conference for NC K-12 Arts Educators, Administrators, and Pre-Service Teachers in Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts. This is an opportunity for arts educators to develop personalized learning experiences and have cross-sector learning and collaboration around the 4R’s:

  • Rekindle your artistic spirit by participating in hands’-on arts experiences
  • Reflect on the profession through deepening your understanding of the standards to support student learning and growth
  • Reconnect with colleagues and professional organizations
  • Renew your body and mind through expressive, contemplative, and rejuvenating experiences designed to promote your well-being

This wiki is intended to be a resource for arts educators, administrators, institutions of higher education, and other interested parties. It contains links to standards, instructional tools, professional development, and other resources related to implementing the NC Arts Education Essential Standards. Arts Education leaders are encouraged to browse, reference, download, share, discuss, and adapt resources. You do not need to be a member of this wiki to view the resources on this site.