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Arts Disciplines

The San Diego Unified School District provides a standards-based sequential course of study in dance, music, theatre, and visual art.



California Ed Code states, "The adopted course of study for grades 1 to 6, inclusive, shall include instruction, beginning in grade 1 and continuing through grade 6, in the following areas of study: ... Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression."

Elementary students receive a standards-based grade each progress report in the visual arts and the performing arts. Students may receive instruction and assessment through:

  • A weekly class at each grade level, for elementary schools who have selected dance, music, theatre, or visual art as their prep-time enrichment offering. Dance instruction also meets students' physical education minutes.
  • VAPA-provided Intro to Music (5th grade) or Full Grade Level (4th/5th) programs, in which students may sing and/or play instruments. 
  • Seven lessons in three of the arts disciplines at elementary schools who are providing classroom teacher collaboration time through the Arts Education Project.
  • Regular incorporation by their elementary classroom teacher.


VAPA DanceMiddle schools and high schools offer pathways in dance that provide P.E. credit or VAPA credit, depending on the school site. Students may participate in school-wide dance productions and performances, as well as city, state and national workshops and festivals, and stage, film and television opportunities. 

VAPA dance pathways

VAPA MusicMiddle schools and high schools offer music pathways in band, orchestra, choir, jazz ensemble, piano, or guitar, depending on the school site. Some high schools also offer introductory music appreciation or advanced AP music theory classes. Additionally, students have access to a multitude of district music performance opportunities such as district showcases and honor ensembles.

VAPA music pathways

VAPA TheatreMiddle schools and high schools offer pathways in theatre and/or musical theatre, complemented by technical theatre CCTE courses, depending on the school site. Theater students participate in school-wide musicals and plays, assuming various roles as actor, director, dramaturge, playwright and technical crew. SDUSD enjoys strong partnerships with the community providing students with increased opportunity to job shadow and experience and participate in theatre at a professional level. Students also perform in city, county, state and national level festivals and productions.

Theatre Pathways

VAPA Visual ArtMiddle schools and high schools offer visual art pathways in study and practice of traditional media (drawing, painting, mixed media, and ceramics/sculpting), depending on the school site. High schools may also offer AP courses in visual art and art history. Students may participate in school-wide presentations and showings, as well as district and local art shows and gallery events.

Visual Art Pathways

For more information about the arts as academic content, please see the California Arts Standards (2019) and the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework (2020).



 DANCE Dance Resource Teacher  Candice Narlock   [email protected]
 MUSIC Music Program Manager - Music K-12  Anne Fennell [email protected]
 MUSIC Music Resource Teacher (Choral & General)   Laura Williams [email protected]
 THEATRE Theatre Resource Teacher   Marjorie Treger [email protected]
 VISUAL ART   Visual Art Resource Teacher
 Don Masse  [email protected]