Following months of debate and collaboration with the Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) and other RI arts education groups, the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Council on …
Following months of debate and collaboration with the Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) and other RI arts education groups, the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved the final updated version of the statewide high school regulations, which strengthens the current Arts graduation requirement for students.
Over 5,200 people signed RIMEA’s petition to include the Arts as a graduation requirement as part of a well-rounded education for Rhode Island’s students. Numerous supporters of the Arts also testified at the Department of Education’s hearings advocating for the Arts to be a meaningful part of the regulations, as well as speaking to the positive impact that the Arts has had on their lives.
RIMEA is appreciative of the collaboration between the Department of Education and the music and arts community. We know that students are experiencing stress and mental health issues at record rates. The state should continue to increase opportunities for students to grow academically, express themselves, and alleviate stress, all through the Arts.
While all of our recommendations for the graduation requirements were not adopted, we believe this is a strong start, and we will continue to work with RIDE to ensure that the Arts are being implemented in a meaningful, equitable way across districts for all students.”
To continue to support the requirement that all students have equal access to a high-quality arts program regardless of their zip code, RIMEA calls on RIDE to:
Clearly define for all districts that the ARTS means coursework in Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Theater and Media Arts that follow the Rhode Island adopted NCAS Arts Proficiency standards for high school students.
Clearly communicates that the high school proficiency expectation in each of the Arts is clearly defined by the RI adopted National Standards in the Arts and districts are expected to adopt this as their own definition of “arts proficiency.”
Monitor and ensure that all credit bearing courses that are being used to develop and determine Arts proficiency are taught by licensed/certified Arts educators.
Ensure that every high school in the state, including vocational schools and charter schools, include sufficient arts course work to allow students to demonstrate arts proficiency as defined by the state, and offers at least two different genres of the arts, as defined in number one above.
Ensure that every school district in the state, including charter schools, offers a rich enough comprehensive Arts education Pre-K through Grade 8 to ensure students enter high school with enough foundational skills in the Arts to be ready to work towards high school level proficiency in their chosen art form.
Ensure that every student in the state who meets “proficiency” in one of the Arts approaches a level of proficiency in that chosen Art form to be accepted by Rhode Island College or URI into a degree track program in that chosen Art form.
In order for RIDE to have the capacity to support and monitor all of the above, expand the currently advertised part time, temporary, RISCA embedded, Arts Education Coordinator Position into a permanent fulltime RIDE employed member equal to the status of the other content area coordinators employed at RIDE.
Continued collaboration with the Rhode Island Music Education Association and all of the Arts communities will benefit all students. We again thank RIDE for their efforts in undertaking improvements to the state’s graduation requirements.
— Neves is Executive Director of the R.I. Music Education Association.