Teachers and students need explicit statements of the results expected from a music education, not only for pedagogical reasons, but to be able to allocate instructional resources and to provide a basis for assessing student achievement and progress. Individual standards should be understood as a statement of what students should know and be able to do. They may, of course, acquire the competency at any time within the specified period, but they will be expected to have acquired it before they move on.
Presented within each of the music standards are the specific competencies that DoDEA believes are essential for every student.
The division of the Standards into special competencies does not indicate that each is, or should be given the same weight, time, or emphasis at any point in the K-12 sequence, or over the student's entire school career. The mixture and balance will vary with grade level, by course, by instructional unit, and from school to school.
Two different types of Standards are used to guide student assessment in each of the competence areas:
- Content Standards specify what students should know and be able to do in the discipline.
- Achievement Standards specify the understandings and levels of achievement that students are expected to attain in the competencies.
In this document a number of achievement standards are described for each content standard.
In grades 9-12, two levels of achievement standards- "Proficient" and "Advanced" are offered for each of the music standards. Two or more standards may be offered in each of these two categories. In grades 9-12, the "Advanced" level of achievement is more likely to be attained by students who have elected specialized courses than by students who have not. All students, however, are expected to achieve at the "Proficient" level.
These standards are designed to reflect a national consensus concerning the highest priority skills and knowledge young people should have acquired upon exiting grades 4, 8, and 12. They apply to every student through grade 8 and to every student enrolled in music beyond grade 8. Although music instruction in school is important in the development of those students who are talented in music, its primary purpose is to improve the quality of life for all students by developing their capacities to participate fully in their musical culture.
Within each grade level, content standards identify the broad subject matter. Within each content standard, several achievement standards specify desired levels of attainment or state how students will demonstrate their attainment of the desired level.