As part of the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative planning process, a Quality Work Group of arts specialists, arts partners, and researchers diligently reviewed research-based definitions of quality arts learning, drafted a framework for defining quality building on research-based models and knowledge of Boston, and developed an initial approach to assessing quality arts learning. This approach focuses on professional development and creating a shared learning community for arts instructors, identifying of areas for investment in quality arts learning across the district, and building a common understanding of quality across the city.
The BPS Arts Expansion Initiative conducted a Quality Review Study Group Pilot in spring 2012 based on the Quality Work Group’s efforts. Pilot group participants included BPS Arts Specialists and Teaching Artists across five arts disciplines (visual arts, media arts, theater, dance and music). In this study group model, twenty participants engaged in a shared exploration of the current quality and future directions for arts education throughout the city.
BPS Arts Expansion is continuing Quality Review Study Groups in the 2012-2013 school year, building on the recommendations and feedback of the pilot group. The core component of these discipline-specific groups is visiting each study group participants’ school/classroom. These day-long visits include the following critical elements:
- Peer to peer conversations regarding observed teacher/teaching artist's practice
- Observations of classroom teachers and community arts partners at work
- Interviews with the school leader to establish how schools currently support arts learning
- Interviews with a range of students from observed classes
The findings from the visits resulted in a sharing of current assets and recommendations for arts learning in Boston Public Schools. Participants in the Quality Review Process cited the following impacts on their practice: the importance of cross-visitation for professional growth, breaking down the isolation of arts practitioners, the development of common language and expectations across teachers and cultural partners, and boosting a school’s arts’ profile in principals’ eyes.