Executive Summary

Fine Arts Student Portfolios


At the end of the day, teachers are concerned with their students’ success and want to ensure that processes are in place for measuring that success fairly and accurately, whether they teach English Language Art, Science, Foreign Languages, Physical Education, or Fine Arts. Hope Street Group believes that there are examples of fair evaluations that authentically measure student growth and aims to shine a light on those cases so that all states and districts may benefit. 

Teacher Fellow Dru Davison  and his team of Fine Arts educators in Tennessee worked together for two years to develop an assessment that measures student growth in the Fine Arts.  This assessment was created by Fine Arts teachers for Fine Arts teachers and relies on the work of these teachers to authentically measure their student growth for all Fine Arts grades and subjects. Though this assessment was created specifically for Fine Arts, other subject areas are using this process to develop their own tailored assessment.

Overview of the Fine Arts Growth Measures System

The Fine Arts Growth Measures System measures authentic student growth using a portfolio of student growth in the arts. The portfolio is based on a representative cross section of teacher-collected student work samples, gathered using a purposeful sampling process. Teachers pre-score their own student work samples and measure them against Tennessee’s Standards Based Curriculum before submitting them to a blind peer review committee, which is comprised of content specific, expert arts teachers. The peer review committee then scores the artifacts and determines student growth using pre-approved scoring guides carefully designed for each subject.   

Getting Started

For states and districts interested in replicating a student growth assessment similar to the Tennessee Fine Arts team, here are a few recommendations.

Success of this assessment started at the beginning with:

1. Buy-in and mutual agreement from policymakers and teachers
Both policymakers and teachers must agree that the goal of the assessment is to measure student proficiency and use data to better inform teaching practices. All participants should remain open-minded to possible solutions and establish a shared foundation of understanding with regards to the goal.

2. Teachers are integral to the process
The Tennessee Fine Arts team was initially convened through the state but continued to meet on their own and developed the entire assessment—the process, the scoring guide, and the pilot. States and districts should establish a Teacher Committee and guide them in the development process, while remembering that what will make the student growth assessment successful and authentic, is the leadership of teachers. 

3. Financial support is a must
States and districts must find funding to support the development of new assessments. Teachers must be compensated for their time, spent both in and out of school on this project.


After states or districts have established their Teacher Committee, the teachers can begin creating an assessment process that is tailored to their standards and needs.

Constructing the Scoring Guide

When writing the criteria for the Student Growth Scoring Guide, reference state standards to ensure alignment between the proposed guide, district curriculum, state standards and any related Common Core standards (if applicable). If possible, condense criteria to only several broad categories. For example, the Fine Arts Assessment is comprised of four criteria: Perform, Create, Respond, and Connect.

Determine which competency scale should be used (i.e. Above Expectation, At Expectation, Below Expectation, Significantly Below Expectation). As growth needs to be measureable, the Committee should consider possible portfolio evidence during the construction of the scoring guide.

Purposeful sampling

Allowing individual teachers to collect student growth evidence from their teaching is a key component of this student growth assessment. As a single artifact cannot demonstrate student growth, portfolios should contain multiple collections of evidence.

The Teacher Committee should determine specifications for evidence submissions and create a sample scoring guide with examples of evidence for each criterion along the continuum. This should be made available to all teachers and highlighted during training. The Fine Arts Team had no number limit to evidence collections but stipulate in directions to teachers that the entire artifact review should take between 35-45 min.

Blind Peer Review

It is important to have subject matter teachers integrated in the evaluation process, especially for non-tested grades and subjects. Creating a committee comprised of these expert teachers to blindly evaluate the student growth portfolios of their colleagues, allows them to provide specific, knowledgeable feedback without personal connection.

When selecting the Peer Review Committee, be methodical. The Fine Arts team uses an application process for teachers, which includes a letter of recommendation and examples of student work. Teachers who are selected for the peer review committee then undergo extensive training on the evaluation process and Scoring Guide. Teachers on this committee are compensated at the discretion of the district.


When possible, teachers from the Teacher Committee should conduct training to their colleagues. This validates their work and allows other teachers to trust the process that was created by their peers. Training should be thorough and provide real world examples. There should also be a designated point person to whom teachers can go to with specific questions.

For additional information, FAQs, and sample forms, download the Fine Arts Growth Measures System Teachers Guide

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about the Tennessee Fine Arts Growth Measures System, please contact Dru Davison at davisonpd@mcsk12.net.

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