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2020 CAS - Visual Arts Standards Summary of Changes


Colorado state law requires a review and revision of the Colorado Academic Standards every six years with the first review to be completed by July 2018. Stronger alignment of learning expectations within and across grades had been the primary focus of the review and revision process. This includes additions, deletions, revisions and reorganizations of the standards. Listed below is a summary of the substantive revisions of the Visual Arts Standards. 

Notable Changes to All Content Area Standards:

The review committees made changes to the structure of the standards that apply to all content areas:

  • Changes to the title of the Prepared Graduate Competencies section of the standards document to Prepared Graduate Statements to reduce confusion with competency-based learning systems of instruction and assessment practices.
  • Changes to the title of the right side of the standards document from 21st Century Skills and Readiness Competencies to Academic Context and Connections. The sections within the Academic Context and Connections continue to focus on essential skills and relevant connections to the Grade Level Expectations.
  • Revisions to the preschool standards for all content areas contain revisions to align the expectations with Colorado’s Early Learning and Development Guidelines and the latest revision of the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

Revisions Applicable to All Grades in Visual Arts:

  • Clarity of language and stronger alignment of learning expectations within and across grades was the primary focus of the review and revision process. When aligning expectations within the standards, the result is deletions, revisions, and reorganization.
  • Measurable verbs were added to all grade level expectations (GLEs) to increase specificity and rigor.
  • The committee reduced the number of prepared graduate statements (PGSs) from seventeen to ten.
  • The right side sections within the Academic Context and Connections have been re-titled:
    • Colorado Essential Skills and Meaning Making describes ways in which students demonstrate the ability to form, grapple with, and convey concepts and ideas through visual art and design with real-world application. The last statement in this category is specific as to how literacy is authentically evidenced in visual art.
    • Inquiry Questions in the visual arts standards are phrased for a teacher to reflect on their instructional practices and their students’ learning. The questions may be rephrased to use as direct questions to students, to assist them as they reflect on their own artmaking experiences.
    • Learning Experience and Transfer illustrates how the learning and experience that happens in the corresponding GLE can be used to expand student thinking, encourage conceptual curiosity and connect multiple disciplines and literacies.
  • Language of Visual Art and Design
    • The term “language of visual art and design” refers to the components of art that artists use when they make and talk about art. The term replaces “characteristics and expressive features of the visual arts” used in the 2009 Standards continuing to recognize multiple interpretations for addressing ways to construct and deconstruct works of art across various times and cultures. It includes the elements and principles of design used in teaching the formal qualities of artmaking, but allows for additional or other interpretations as is appropriate to student, teacher and/or community needs. The term acknowledges that visual elements such as line, shape, color and compositional choices such as perspective, balance, rhythm and more can be an element of “text” that conveys artistic intent and meaning.

Revisions for Elementary:

  • The committee combined the grade level expectations (GLEs) for developmental appropriateness and to take into account the limited amount of instructional time available in elementary art schedules.
  • The evidence outcomes (EOs) within the combined GLEs were streamlined for greater alignment.

Revisions for Middle School:

  • Visual art concepts and skills shifted between some GLEs to establish greater coherence, focus and alignment with research-based learning progressions for visual art.
  • The EOs were clarified for greater alignment to the GLEs and to increase accessibility.
  • The Relate and Connect to Transfer standard was revised be more open to the application of individual schools and districts and for greater alignment PK through HS. Content examples were provided to add clarification to some EOs.

Revisions for High School:

  • The committee clarified language to better define the focus of the content and the expected outcomes.
  • Evidence outcomes (EOs) were clarified for greater alignment to the GLEs and to increase the depth and breadth of the outcome appropriate to the HS grade band level.

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