What does the law require?
Sure most schools have instruction in the
arts now, and most people would
probably say it’s a good thing. But what
(if any) legal guidelines are there for arts
education in the U.S. and speciﬁcally in
Educational curriculum and standards
are a State’s constitutional right to
govern. This does not mean however
that the federal government is silent on
the issue of arts education.
Core Subjects as
Deﬁned by NCLB
• Reading or language arts
• Foreign languages
• Civics and government
Texas Education Agency, “No Child Left Behind Act--Academic Core Subjects Under NCLB
What is meant by “The
While NCLB leaves it up to the states to
determine what qualiﬁes as “Arts” the
following 4 disciplines are standard at the
national and state levels.
• Visual Art
What are the States Doing
with this core subject?
• In 2007, Arts
an advocacy group,
survey of state
education. This is
Of course, this data can be somewhat
misleading since states have different
understandings of what a mandate is.
• (Tex. Admin. Code tit. 19, § 74.2 and Tex. Admin. Code tit. 19, § 117(A): A district
that offers kindergarten through grade 5 must offer the required foundation and
enrichment curriculum, and must ensure sufﬁcient time is provided for teachers to
teach and students to learn the curriculum. Districts and schools must offer
standards-based art, music and theater at all elementary grade levels.
• (Tex. Admin. Code tit. 19, § 74.3)b: Districts offering grades 6-8 and/or 9-12 must
offer the required foundation and enrichment curriculum, and must ensure
sufﬁcient time is provided for teachers to teach and students to learn the
• (Tex. Admin. Code tit. 19 § 74.3):All high schools must offer two of the four ﬁne
arts content areas (art, dance, music, and theatre).
• (Tex. Admin. Code tit. 19 § 74.43, 74.44, 75.53, 75.54): One credit of ﬁne arts is
required to graduate from high school under the Recommended High School
Program and Distinguished Achievement High School Program-Advanced High
Education Commission of the States, Artscan Database
• Sec. 1278a(a)(iv) The board of a school district or board of
directors of a public school academy shall not award a high
school diploma to a pupil unless the pupil has successfully
completed at least 1 credit in visual arts, performing arts, or
applied arts, that is aligned with guidelines developed by the
Michigan Department of Education.
• Sec. 1278b(5)(g)(j) The visual, performing and applied arts credit
requirement may be modiﬁed as part of a personal curriculum
only if the modiﬁcation requires the pupil to complete 1
additional credit in English language arts, mathematics, or
science or 1 additional credit in a language other than English.
This additional credit must be in addition to the number of those
credits otherwise required in each subject area.
What does this mean?
What this means is that for some states,
NCLB is interpreted to require that every
child have arts instruction for 9 years, and
is entitled to arts education (or at least the
opportunity for it) through their entire
school career. For other states, NCLB is
interpreted to require that children must
have 1 year of arts instruction, and are not
entitled to more.
While there is no state mandate for arts
education at the elementary level in
Michigan, master agreements often limit
the amount of time that teachers are
required to be in contact with students.
Arts education is often used to create
release time for elementary classroom
teachers. So arts education is present in
the majority of schools in MI.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into
law Goals 2000. In response, a group
called the Consortium of National Arts
Education Associations created national
standards for arts education in four
disciplines: Visual Arts, Dance, Music,
and Theater. This process was funded by
a grant received by the National
Association for Music Education
Kennedy Center Arts Edge
The Standards are divided into grade-
level bands: K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. They
encompass what the consortium felt
every student should know or be able to
demonstrate in each discipline at the end
of a K-12 curriculum.
There is no legal mandate
to adhere to these national
standards. It is the right
of each state to develop
their own standards in
these disciplines. The
state of Michigan has
developed their own
benchmarks based on
these national standards.
Michigan’s benchmarks are based on the
national standards. They do differ
however. For instance, there are 9
National Standards for music, while
Michigan’s Benchmarks are distilled
down to 5 content standards that cover
roughly the same material.
At the moment, there are no
standardized assessments at any level in
music achievement under either the
national or state authority. As such
there’s no government body beyond
school administration keeping track of
whether standards are met.
The Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC)
was signed into law on April 20, 2006.
This is the law that contains Michigan’s
arts education mandate. Students are
required to receive 1 year’s worth of arts
education, provided the student does not
have a personalized curriculum containing
an extra credit of Math, Science, Language
Arts or a foreign language.
In order to qualify as a credit for the
MMC, there are a set of guidelines, the
“Visual, Performing, and Applied Arts
Credit Guidelines” that set out how
classes for credit should be set up. Since
these are not speciﬁc to each discipline,
there is no uniform assessment of these