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After two decades, national arts standards for schools revamped

In this file photo, Eliot Middle School dance students get ready to perform at Madison Elementary in Pasadena. Mary Plummer/KPCC

Educators released a new vision for arts instruction in the U.S. this week, a set of standards that aim to make students artistically literate in the digital age. 

“The standards work very, very hard in order to try and harness all the aspects that there are now in digital media," said artist Laurence Gartel, who participated in a webinar launch for the standards Wednesday. “I can’t say enough. I’m just personally delighted."

The new arts standards are the first revamp since 1994 — when roughly 45 states adopted the guidelines. About 100 people helped write them. They're voluntary and states can start using them as early as this fall.

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They describe what kids from Pre-K to 12th grade should be learning in dance, visual arts, theater, music and media arts - a new category covering things like animation and sound design. They encourage sequential arts instruction, where students build on concepts established in lower grades and continue advancing through high school.

The goals are framed around four related concepts for students to master: creating, presenting, responding and connecting.

Cory Wilkerson, who handles communications for the coalition said the group is also offering example assessments for students in second, fifth and eighth grades and in high school, hoping to ease the ever-present challenge of quantifying success in the arts.

To learn more about the new national arts standards: