Fine Arts Discussion Summary

Common Core

  • Common Core still is a mystery to college professors.
  • High School tech classes are not assessed using common core standards.
  • In college, instructors choose their course learning outcomes (CLOs).
  • Balancing Common Core with school policies, students’ different learning levels, & other teaching demands is difficult.  The fact that high school is so different from college also complicates things.
  • Many students don’t take the Common Core post-assessment seriously, but teachers are still judged by the results.
  • On the post-Common Core assessment, students tend to pick the answers they recognize (i.e., with the vocabulary they recognize), not necessarily the correct answers.
  • The CTE teacher observed that when students take a test multiple times, they learn the info.  However, it doesn’t help them on certification tests, which focus on application of knowledge.
  • When students take too many tests, they care less & less about them.
  • Students don’t understand why they’re taught what they’re taught.  It’s important to have a dialogue with them about it.
  • One local school district had sessions for teachers on “unpacking” the Common Core (e.g., literacy, reading comprehension).  It’s been helpful…even though the info on the arts is somewhat lacking.
  • In general, teachers don’t want students to regurgitate info.  They want students to be able to understand it on a deeper level, then apply it to real world circumstances.

Conley’s Checklist

  • Conley’s checklist showed specific fine & performing arts subjects, most of which aren’t taught at MCC or at the participants’ schools (e.g., dance).
  • One teacher said her photography students did an e-portfolio that counted as their final exam.  There’s a difference between “knowing” & “doing” (e.g., identifying a color wheel vs. making a color wheel).
  • Teachers think students should be able to meet the criteria listed on Conley’s checklist.  One teacher assesses students on the items via class discussions (& participation), not written tests.  The discussions center on critiques of artwork, & students earn/lose points based on their level of participation.
  • Checklist emphasis on creation, not critical thinking/applying.

High School-to-College-to-Career Gaps

  • Each teacher sets the mood for students’ openness to contribute to class discussions.  Substitute teachers create a different climate that may or may not be conducive to discussion.
  • Key difference between high school & college: high school teachers spend more time with each student.  It’s more of a family environment.
  • The high school teachers were surprised at some MCC policies (e.g., door is locked when class begins, students can’t wear baseball caps in class).
  • The MCC instructor takes her students on field trips to see people working in their field & let those people tell students the importance of things like punctuality & having paperwork printed ahead of time.  This bridges the college-to-career gap.
  • Many MCC students enroll in VAPA classes (or VAPA programs) because they like to draw and/or take pictures or in culinary programs because they like to eat.  Many also plan to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program, but don’t have a plan for how to best get to that point while at MCC.
  • Students don’t understand what different college majors involve, or what careers they lead to.  (The MCC instructor/facilitator showed a sheet that listed careers based on a particular MCC program.  She told the high school teachers that, if they give her their contact info, she’ll send them some of those sheets to pass on to their students.)
  • One teacher grew up in the nation of Macedonia.  She & her peers had to choose a major in preparation for HS.  Preparation & forethought are good, but students, teachers, etc. should be aware that things change too.  For example, 20 years ago, no one knew that the career of digital re-toucher would pay more than photographer.
  • Important things to teach kids: ownership of their education, you do learn from your mistakes.
  • High school counselors often aren’t informed about SUNY Gen Ed requirements.
  • One teacher took her students to a symposium at RIT on careers in the arts (e.g., film & animation, industrial design).  It’s geared toward high school students & helps bridge the high school-to-college-to-career gap.  The teacher would like more high school-to-college connections for her students (e.g., field trips to local colleges, college guest speakers at the high schools).

Dual Enrollment

  • One high school teacher teaches an AP course & an MCC Dual Enrollment (“DE”) course.  She prefers the DE course because she has more flexibility & the students have more of a guarantee that their credits will transfer.  She wishes MCC had more DE courses.
  • One teacher liked the DE handout in the Symposium folder & wants to learn how she can work to get more DE courses because the report in the folder shows  that DE students do better in college.  The MCC instructor replied that the # of DE courses is affected by faculty contract obligations & workload.


  • Common Core is based on literacy & math, then the other disciplines work to influence those.
  • It’s difficult to use the Internet in the schools because so many websites are blocked.
  • Big deficits that HS & MCC instructors see in students: writing ability, meeting deadlines, coming to class & exams with a pen/pencil, understanding MWF & TR in schedules, understanding that classroom numbers indicate that the room is on a specific floor, taking the time to find out information on their own (e.g., looking up a word they don’t know)
  • Teachers feel like they aren’t allowed to let students make mistakes or fail.
  • Test fatigue–students don’t care.

Facilitating Student Success

  • NYSATA website might be useful to help students & HS counselors broach the topic of career choice.
  • Address guidance issue–coordinate counselors & college admissions re high school tech courses & AAS program (MCC).
  • Video of students, visit high school classes & explain expectations.
  • More dual credit.
  • Have teachers/counselors visit MCC classes, and MCC instructors visit high school classes.
  • One teacher has students read novels about people who work in CTE.
  • At one local HS, they do exit interviews with pending graduates to learn what experiences were helpful vs. unhelpful.
  • At another, guests speakers come into the arts classes once a month.
  • It may be helpful to have HS students start e-portfolios with sample artwork & possible careers.
  • Teaching students to write in MLA style in HS helps them in writing intensive courses in college.
  • Career Expo–> visual arts!

Web Resources