In 2000, the South Carolina Arts Assessment Program was developed to provide arts educators and school district personnel a tool to authentically measure and evaluate students' arts achievement. The project began with a focus on developing and field testing large-scale assessments for elementary school music and visual arts. Arts advisory committees, comprised of statewide leaders in music and visual arts education, were formed to determine both the arts content that would be used in the assessment and the format that would be used to assess that content. The advisory committee and SCAAP personnel worked together to select the standards and content that were most appropriate for large-scale assessment based on the 2003 SC Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Standards. In 2010, an advisory committee came together and aligned the multiple choice items to the 2010 South Carolina Academic Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts.
The majority of South Carolina elementary schools offer music and visual arts programs, so elementary students were chosen as the initial test population for the assessments. Committee members also determined that two assessment formats - multiple-choice and performance task formats - were appropriate for assessing students’ music and visual arts achievement.
Once the content for the assessment was chosen, arts advisory committees joined with other expert arts educators throughout South Carolina to create test items and performance tasks to match the test specifications. In 2002, the SCAAP personnel used those items and tasks to assemble and field-test three 40-item multiple-choice test forms and two performance tasks each for music and for visual arts. Statistical analyses were conducted to evaluate the quality of the assessments and participating teachers were surveyed to gather feedback regarding test administration.
In 2003, 4th grade music and visual arts assessments were refined and pilot-tested. Based on statistical analyses from 2002, the SCAAP personnel assembled two, rather than three, multiple-choice test forms and increased the number of items on each test to 45 to increase the assessment’s reliability. The prototype for the current web-based assessment format was also pilot tested in 2003. Since 2004, the 4th grade music and visual arts assessments have been implemented in schools across the state in conjunction with the Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) grants awarded by the South Carolina Department of Education.
In 2004, a committee of advisors began to work with OPE to develop dance and theatre assessments for entry level middle and high school students. The multiple-choice section of those assessments was field tested in 2005 at several middle and high schools across South Carolina. In 2006, the SCAAP personnel worked with the Advisory Committee members to develop performance tasks for dance and theatre; both sections of the entry-level SCAAP dance and theatre assessments (i.e., multiple-choice and performance tasks) were field-tested in 2007 and implemented at several schools across South Carolina in 2008.
In 2006, advisory committees began to develop the SCAAP music and visual arts assessments for middle school students. The SCAAP middle school music and visual arts assessments were field-tested in 2007.