Washington State's Arts Classroom-Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs)

AnnRené Joseph , Program Supervisor, The Arts
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
600 Washington St. SE, Room 320, P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504




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Development of classroom performance assessments creates network of empowered teachers with information to change their practice. Teaching + Learning + Assessment for Student Achievement = Success

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Arts Assessment Leadership Team (AALT)
60+ Washington State School Districts (CBPA Pilots 2003-2004)
Riverside Publishing Company, Chicago, IL.

Purpose: To empower teachers and students to help all students meet or exceed the state’s essential academic learning requirements in dance, music, theatre and visual arts arts.  The “formula for success” is:

Teaching + Learning + Assessment of/for Student Achievement = Success

Facilitated by the state department of education (OSPI), over 60 school districts and over 400 teachers participated in the fall 2004 voluntary large-scale pilot. Working with assessment developer, Riverside Publishing Company, this statewide network has been helping hone Classroom Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs). As of summer 2005, Washington was the only state developing such CBPAs for use in a statewide assessment with all learners aligned to state fine arts standards. Classes across the state have been trying out and giving feedback on twenty-six dance, music, theatre, and visual arts CBPAs for grades five eight, and ten. Different than some testing situations, these tools are being designed to give immediately useful responses directly to teachers and students. Educators in Washington state are busy making the upcoming 2008-09 requirement to assess all students in the fine arts a wonderful opportunity.

This movement seeks to make statewide arts assessment that are not threatening and constructive. Already, teachers and students are reporting how the pilot feedback has helped them improve teaching of the arts, and reorient the teaching to be more in line with the range of skills and knowledge implied by their state standards.

To prepare the community to meet the opportunity the assessment provides, a cyclical series of trainings specific to the arts assessment has taken place. Summer pre-institutes precede general education conferences. January institutes provide other training opportunities. Regional and local conferences and meetings help continue to reach more people. The AALT members, who are also involved in the assessment development, lead the trainings for their peers.

June 2002
Arts teaching workforce – including arts educators and teaching artists, education administrators, state board and department of education members, students, community, businesses, and the testing contractor met to plan how to assess learning in the arts statewide. Classroom Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs) chosen.

Aug 2002
Develop one-year plan and timeline aligned with standards and laws.

Sept 02- Jan 03
Arts Assessment Leadership Team review process and selection. Group meets to develop vision for statewide CBPAs and reviews research.

Nov- Dec 2003
First pilot is completed. Arts assessment items are examined to measure validity

Feb- June 2003
Items in iterations among AALT, Riverside Publishing Company, and state fine arts consultant.

November 2003
Developed three year plan. Winter 2003: Piloted first items over four week period. 

Jan 2004
Educators from all nine Educational Service Districts (ESD) sent 16,000 student samples for review (more than double what were expected), which were scored by educators on the Arts Assessment Leadership Team (AALT). AALT members organized participation of districts and teachers in their regional districts. 

16,000 arts assessment items sent to OSPI for scoring.

February 2004
AALT members trained to assess, and revise rubrics; items then reviewed.

June - August 2004
Three training institutes in preparation for the pilot. All different regions, lead by AALT members.

Sept - Dec. 2004
Runs the second large scale statewide, psychometric pilot to test validity of the program. Jan. 2005: Range finding of samples. Pre-institute to train teachers in taking and using the CPBAs.

Jan – August 2005
Training on the CPBAs offered at existing regional and local conferences and events.

Scholarship funding raised.

Summer 2005
AALT members try out 26 advance items with 100+ teachers and thousands of students. Four Arts-pre-conferences to OSPI summer institutes around the state.

September 2005
Public web posting of state arts frameworks. AALT retreat, reflection, and celebration.

End of 2005 - Early 2006
Sixty CBPAs are completed and made public. Statewide training of 296 school districts takes place. Please contact OSPI directly for updates on the rapid changes in 2006.

February 2006-Current (October 2008)
Forty nine new/revised CBPAs will debut on January 7 at the OSPI January Conference for use with the state reporting form beginning 2008-2009.  Items were developed by the AALT which included feedback from the teachers who have been using the CBPAs since 2004. 

November 2008
Statewide Reporting form for the Arts and Health and Fitness will be sent to all 295 school districts for use. 

Washington Education Association donated an extra $20,000 towards tuition scholarships for institutes.

Findings :
Assessment development = professional development. The groundbreaking, iterative work of developing truly useful assessments offers tremendous professional development. Too often, we ‘silo’ assessment and curriculum development, and call it something else. According to the work in Washington state, teachers that get involved in this work learn a tremendous amount. Washington has opened up this process which has benefited more educators.

Teaching and learning has already changed. Completing the program made a large difference for the participating educators. Taking more time to help students and examine their work has had an effect on successful teaching. Joseph writes, “Participation in the pilot was much greater than we had anticipated…. The items worked. Teaching changed. Student achievement in the arts has increased. Arts programming and additional courses are being added to district offerings” (Joseph) p.4.

Increased awareness leads to increased opportunities. The publicity around the wide involvement in the pilot process led to more opportunities to teach the arts in all four disciplines (Joseph) p.13.

See Arts Impact.

Lessons Learned:
Don’t forget to celebrate your successes. This whole process is a continuing journey. Just as we set benchmarks for student learning, so must we celebrate when we the educators reach our benchmarks.

Useful Tools:
The Classroom Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs), in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts are available on-line at: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/WASL/Arts/CBPAentireset.aspx

An arts assessment site

Washington State Arts Essential Academic Learning Requirements 

Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life by Eric Liu (2004).

Joseph, AnnRené. Arts Assessments for Washington State Classroom Based Performance Assessments the Journey in Progress. Seattle, WA: New Horizons for Learning, 2005.

Joseph, AnnRené. The Arts-Communicating and Integrating Life, Literacy and Learning Through Experience for All Learners. WA: OSPI, 2006.

Joseph, AnnRené. Letter to Ellis, Dawn M. 27 July 2005.

Target Population:

Arts Administrators

Arts Specialists

Classroom Teachers

Education Administrators

Other Educators

Other Population





Teaching Artists

Arts Discipline:


Interdisciplinary arts and other subjects




Visual Arts

Entry Points:







Education Thread:
Education Reform