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NATIONAL ARTS ACCREDITATION

The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA) believes that lifelong learning and constant reflection are necessary for continued growth and innovative best practices for 21st century teaching and learning. We are committed to the hope and promise of every young artist with the passion and commitment for a rigorous curriculum in the arts and academics. The vehicle for much of this reflective thinking is fostered through our work in the national arts accreditation process--something that has been spoken about several times this past school year. This multi-year process is known as ACCPAS--the National Accreditation in the arts from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools. We wanted to take a few minutes to explain and clarify our vision for the national accreditation process and what it means for our SDSCPA community.

In the Fall of 2016, the San Diego Unified Board of Education approved a five year Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Strategic Arts Plan that creates a roadmap for the alignment and accreditation of SDUSD arts magnet schools to provide high quality arts training in grades TK-12. With equity and access at the foundation of this strategic plan, the vision is to lift the learning experiences for all artistically passionate and committed students with arts programs that back up to conservatory and university level arts programs. In education, we call this backwards design. We are excited about our commitment to a unified vision and curricular alignment with the Creative Performing Media Arts Middle school in Clairemont. Our work is about providing all VAPA focused school students with consistent and research proven pathways for arts training- theory, technique, and practice.

Please consult our ACCPAS Frequently Asked Questions below to help better understand this process and its impact on the teaching and learning experiences for our SDSCPA community. (personalized from ACCPAS Handbook 2007 21 May 2007 https://accpas.arts-accredit.org/)

What is ACCPAS?

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools (ACCPAS) was established by the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations in 2000 to review and accredit schools and programs providing non-degree instruction in the arts disciplines to children, youth, and adults. ACCPAS does not review undergraduate or graduate degrees, or programs providing professional credentials in an art form. Much like we are accredited for the academics (WASC), we are seeking accreditation in the arts.

The Council of Arts Accrediting Associations (CAAA) members are the National Association of Schools of Music, founded 1924; the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, founded 1944; the National Association of Schools of Theatre, founded 1965; and the National Association of Schools of Dance, founded 1981. Among them, these organizations accredit over 1,000 institutions or programs in the arts, primarily in conservatories, colleges, universities, and independent schools of the arts.

Why are we doing this?

Much like our daily philosophy at SDSCPA, we are committed to lifelong learning. As a school community, we encourage reflection and improvement be ingrained into all of our work with SDSCPA students and staff. We are committed to the hope and promise of every young artist with the passion and commitment for a rigorous curriculum in the arts and academics. Here are a few reasons we are embarking on this journey:

  • ACCPAS will guide in lifting the work of our artistic programs for all students, thus systematically placing the SDSCPA in the leadership position as a nationally recognized public arts school.
  • VAPA focused schools in San Diego Unified School District have reached a point in their growth that the accreditation process prove highly beneficial to the SDSCPA community by further developing and refining the future of our school.
  • It is also an organized means of assessing the present and planning for the future. It provides a means of reviewing the parts of the school (individual programs of study) and their relationships to the whole (access and opportunities for all students in the arts).
  • It is also a means of strengthening our relationship with the San Diego Unified School District. The VAPA office plays a critical leadership role in ensuring our continued success and improvement through support and advocacy to SDUSD stakeholders.
  • The accreditation status may prove important to funders and donors attracted to the sustainability of a quality arts program creating leaders in the 21st century creative economy.
  • The ACCPAS process also establishes a continuing program of evaluation for purposes of accountability in teaching and learning for all SDSCPA graduates and faculty.
  • It also reinforces that belief that our arts programs and practices are backed by a body of national standards in order to support stability and continuity in our pursuit of excellence for all students.

We believe these are critical reasons for SDSCPA and VAPA focused schools to align and strategically work to pursue national arts accreditation process. This accreditation process represents an investment from our SDSCPA community, the VAPA community, the San Diego Arts Community, and San Diego Unified School District to ensure we fully support our students and their journey as professional and passionate artists. We firmly believe in value of this investment in our San Diego Community and its future as an innovative learning environment for young artists as scholars.

How long will this process take?

Year One (2016-17):

  1. Develop Artistic Department Vision
  2. Research Conservatory Entrance Requirements for 4 VAPA majors: Music, Dance, Theatre, Visual and Media Arts
  3. Begin to align refine and elevate arts curriculum, scope, and sequence
  4. Begin admission and enrollment procedures in alignment with school vision
  5. Build infrastructure for financial sustainability of arts programs

Year Two (2017-18):

  1. Clearly identify and communicate high expectations for all students and faculty in the arts
  2. Provide informal and formal assessments with feedback from adjudications
  3. Continue to build curriculum alignment and common assessments and adjudication rubrics
  4. Develop clear expectations and procedures for adequate and appropriately qualified staffing of artistic faculty Increase partnerships to provide increased and more diversified performance opportunities for all students Increase partnerships to provide individualized training for all students
  5. Begin Academic literacy in reading and writing across curriculum to support Artistic History and Analysis
  6. Build revenue to financially sustain arts programs
  7. Begin to assess facility requirements for artistic programs--instructional, practice, and performance.

Year Three (2018-19):

  1. Require all students to have a yearly exhibition of artistic learning
  2. Demonstrate progress toward financial sustainability of arts programming
  3. Examine transcripts for proof of college and conservatory readiness
  4. Invite ACCPAS Consultant to review progress toward accreditation

Year Four (2020-21)

  1. Complete ACCPAS report
  2. Spring Evaluative visit by ACCPAS Committee

How do we achieve ACCPAS accreditation?

SDSCPA will offer training on the secondary level that develops disciplinary competence at least equivalent to the entrance requirements of NASAD (art and design), NASD (dance), NASM (music), NAST (theatre) member institutions offering professional baccalaureate degrees.

ACCPAS recognizes that SDSCPA is unique. Therefore, the standards focus on how to best elevate our arts programs rather than to dictate how we execute them. We define and determine our particular mission, goals, and objectives and this becomes a primary basis for the accreditation review. ACCPAS accreditation will not attempt to make SDSCPA like another high school, rather we are encouraged to fulfill them in our own way.

We must demonstrate that:

  • Each of our art departments must have purposes that are specific and clear with regard to the levels of what students are expected to study, know, and be able to do in terms of content or subject matter and technique;
  • Any prerequisites or equipment and technology requirements are clearly stated;
  • Our students are constantly achieving a measurable degree of advancement toward the fulfillment of program purposes;
  • Our students are appropriately engaged and/or are developing an effective work process;
  • Our students are acquiring a body of knowledge and skills sufficient to be evaluated and a level of competence acceptable for presentation within and/or beyond the school;
  • Our curricular requirements must provide sufficient time on task to produce the competence expected.

What does it look like for each of the art majors at SDSCPA?

Dance Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities

a. Performance:

  1. Achievement of the highest possible level of accomplishment in the field or fields chosen. It is assumed that study will continue throughout the entire certificate program.
  2. Opportunities for presentation and critique in a variety of formal and informal settings.
  3. Opportunities for study and/or experiences in more than one area. In most cases, study of more than one dance style or genre is appropriate and should be encouraged.

b. Analysis and Dance History:

  1. Students should develop fundamental understanding of the elements of dance and abilities to respond to, interpret, create, analyze, and evaluate their own performances or works and those of others. 
  2. Students should develop a basic knowledge of some of the major achievements in dance history.

c. A Final Project:

  1. A final project before certification is essential. Although most students will choose to perform in fulfillment of this requirement, students who show exceptional promise and inclination toward dance history, choreography, or analysis may undertake other appropriate projects.

Music Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities

a. Performance:

  1. Achievement of the highest possible level of performance. It is assumed that study in the major performing medium will continue throughout the entire certificate program.
  2. Solo and ensemble experience in a variety of formal and informal settings.
  3. Opportunities for study in secondary performance areas. In most cases, keyboard study is appropriate and should be encouraged.

b. Basic Musicianship:

  1. Students develop fundamental musicianship, including basic understanding of musical properties such as rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, texture, and form; abilities to respond to, interpret, create, analyze, and evaluate music; and sight-reading and aural skills.
  2. Students develop a general knowledge of music history through performance, listening, and discussion to enable them to place compositions in historic and stylistic perspective.
  3. Evidence of achievement in basic musicianship must be determined through formal examination procedures.

c. Final Project:

  • A final project before certification is essential. Although most students will choose to perform a public recital in fulfillment of this requirement, students who show exceptional promise and inclination toward composition or music history may undertake other appropriate projects in lieu of the recital.

Theatre Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities

a. Performance and/or Design/Technology or Playwriting:

  1. Achievement of the highest possible level of accomplishment in the field or fields chosen. It is assumed that study will continue throughout the entire certificate program.
  2. Opportunities for presentation and critique in a variety of formal and informal settings.
  3. Opportunities for study and/or experiences in more than one area are appropriate and should be encouraged.

b. Analysis and Theatre History:

  1. Students should develop fundamental understanding of the elements of theatre and abilities to respond to, interpret, create, analyze, and evaluate their own work and the work of others.
  2. Students should develop a basic knowledge of some of the major achievements in theatre history.

c. Final Project:

  1. A final project before certification is essential. Although most students will choose to present acting or design technology or playwriting work in fulfillment of this requirement, students who show exceptional promise and inclination toward theatre history or analysis may undertake other appropriate projects.

Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities – Visual Arts

a. Studio:

  1. Achievement of the highest possible level of studio accomplishment in such areas as one or more of the arts, design, media, film/video, etc. It is assumed that studio study will continue throughout the entire certificate program.
  2. Opportunities for presentation and critique in a variety of formal and informal settings.
  3. Opportunities for study and/or experiences in more than one area.

b. Analysis and Art/Design History:

  1. Students develop fundamental understanding of the elements of art/design and abilities to respond to, interpret, create, analyze, and evaluate their own works and the works of others in one or more specializations. Students develop a basic knowledge of some of the major achievements in visual arts and/or design and/or film history. (ACCPAS Handbook 2007 22 May 2007)

c. Final Project:

A final project before certification is essential. Although most students will choose to present studio work in fulfillment of this requirement, students who show exceptional promise and inclination toward art/design history or analysis may undertake other appropriate projects in lieu of an exhibition.

What does it mean for our students?

  • All SDSCPA students must have at least 20% of the required instructional time or credits to graduate are devoted to one or more of the 4 art programs.
  • Smaller Class Sizes for students to receive routine critiques of meaningful duration during the regular class period.

What does it mean for our teachers?

  • Alignment of Curriculum and Instruction Professional Development on coaching and current trends
  • Opportunities to be artists!

What changes might be in store?

  1. Entrance requirements will need to align with vision and mission of each art department and school.
  2. Reduction of class sizes and individualized instruction in art disciplines.
  3. Highly qualified teaching artists.
  4. Increase opportunities for all students to be assessed via performance, analysis and theory, and final projects.
  5. Refinement and raising the sophistication of arts programs.

Excerpted from ACCPAS Handbook 2007 21 May 2007 https://accpas.arts-accredit.org/