Looking back I see that the first mention of the Arts Education Data Project in my Outlook inbox was 2014. A year later in 2015, North Carolina was part of a four state pilot in partnership with SEADAE and Quadrant Research. Three years later after joining the pilot, losing a data specialist, training ourselves on internal statewide data tools and following through with numerous stakeholders inside and outside of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, we are now on the cusp of releasing the North Carolina Arts Education Data Project. Though our story is different from our original pilot members; California, Ohio and Wisconsin, I am sure we share many of the same challenges.
Bob Morrison of Quadrant Research has been a tireless supporter of arts education throughout this process. His emails and face-to-face interactions have always been positive and outcome-based. His passionate articulation for the power of valid data inclusive of all stakeholders, combined with his leadership and patience has helped us overcome several obstacles to offer reliable data to the field in North Carolina.
As this project began in K-12 Program Areas, we initially had a data specialist devoting part of his time working with Bob and supplying statewide data from various sources. Our first hurdle occurred when this data specialist left the agency to pursue other opportunities. It took longer than expected to hire a replacement so, the Comprehensive Arts Education (CAE) assistant Sara and I walked downstairs and introduced ourselves to our Data Management Group in order to see if we could learn how to do what the previous data analyst had done for Bob.
Over the next few months they taught us both how to use our internal statewide data site, CEDARS. Specifically Terra Dominguez and Robin Lucretti were able to devote their time to train us with the hope that Arts Education could be a model for sharing data to our statewide partners. It did take a while to become fully proficient in using this tool, but Bob remained stalwart in his support as we submitted our data on a new timeline.
By the time our new data specialist, Vicki Kriegsman arrived, Sara and I had enough knowledge of CEDARS to run our own reports. When Vicki was available to devote time to the Arts Education Data Project we worked together to first understand the previous work that the other data specialist had submitted, and second to follow up on the new requests as they came down from Bob. Periodically we would exchange emails with Bob as he looked at our data and learned to understand the specifics of our state systems and our course coding structure.
This year we received a working platform consisting of 2015-2016 data. We showed it first to internal groups like K-12 Program Areas and the Data Management Group. We showed it virtually to two of our external work groups, the Arts Education Think Tank and the Arts Educational Leadership Coalition.
The Think Tank consists of Arts Education leaders that we consult with when working on statewide initiatives. Members include professors of arts education from Institutes of Higher Education and arts education coordinators. There are also three educators in this group. It is diverse geographically and based on discipline representation.
The Arts Education Leadership Coalition consists of leadership from statewide Arts Education Professional Organizations, government partners at the NC Arts Council and North Carolina Virtual Public Schools, and arts education leaders from the Carolina Ballet, North Carolina Museum of Art and North Carolina Symphony.
All of these groups gave us feedback including a list of questions which I took directly to Bob. All changes were made in a timely and professional manner. Bob even took our 16-17 data which was just released in March 2018 and created a second dashboard for us to use. His timeliness was appreciated, as we know how valuable this tool will be for our stakeholders.
We have also shared the Arts Education data Project at our statewide Arts Education Coordinators meeting and with upper leadership at NCDPI. We are creating support resources before we make our final public release but hope to do so shortly.
Throughout this process Christie Lynch Ebert, a previous Dance and Music consultant at NCDPI and current Acting Director of Standards, Curriculum and Instruction has been guiding the work and opening doors for approval. Because of her expertise in the world of education and because of her knowledge of internal workings at NCDPI we were able to share this project with our Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Mare Pitre-Martin. Her expectations were exceeded and she ,like our Data Management Group, is hoping this work can be a model for other disciplines and areas within the department.
This work would also not have been possible without hours of hard work behind the scenes at SEADAE. Julie Palkowski, and others have devoted time to make this opportunity become a reality for the thousands of educators and administrators, and millions of students and parents. We cannot wait to release it.
By Slater Mapp
Dance and Visual Arts Education Consultant
K-12 Programs Area
K-12 Curriculum and Instruction Division
NC Department of Public Instruction
6341 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-6349