As states are pursuing raised standards for student learning, it is important to recognize the essential role of arts education in the development of well-rounded students preparing for college, career, and life readiness. In fact, Tennessee has made significant artistic contributions across the national landscape, and Tennessee’s school teachers and leaders will undoubtedly play an important role in nurturing environments of creativity and innovation that will lead to even greater contributions.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) lists the arts and music as a part of a “well-rounded” education, and Tennessee schools offer a rich history of supporting arts education. Tennessee is recognized nationally for significant contributions in arts and culture, and the state academic standards for arts education contribute to increased student access for quality arts education that impacts college, career, and life readiness for Tennessee students. While Tennessee Code Annotated §49-6-1025 speaks to visual art and music instruction for grades K-8, schools also offer courses in dance, theatre, and media arts instruction.
In addition, Tennessee graduation requirements stipulate one full credit of fine arts, and many students elect to focus concentration on sequential course offerings in multiple arts disciplines, including visual arts, dance, media arts, theatre, and vocal and instrumental music. As the economic development of Tennessee becomes increasingly dependent upon skills and outcomes that are embedded in the Tennessee Standards for Arts Education, such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, reflection, and persistence, it will become even more important to ensure that Tennessee students are engaged in sequential standards-based arts instruction. Arts education can also reach a diversity of learners by embodying learning modalities, helping all students learn.