Please note that the Arts Grade Span Expectations , formally adopted by the RI Board pf Regents on April 1, 2010, should now be used to determine specific curriculum and assessments for proficiency. The new Arts GSEs are extensions and refinements of the original proficiency work.

Defining how to measure proficiency is challenging, certainly, but it does not address the ‘opportunity to learn’ questions that keep arising. Our work with other proficiency-based states has helped to shape our understanding of proficiency systems.
  • Proficiency is a developmental process K-12. The equivalent of a half credit arts course in high school will generally not allow a student to develop proficiency (without substantial work outside the school setting).

  • Proficiency is not a single entity, there are multiple proficiencies. In the arts, creating, performing and responding are all examples of proficiencies.

  • Proficiency requires faculty who are highly skilled in creating and assessing standards-based work. Professional development is a critical need in successful, proficiency -based systems where bodies of evidence are assessed, rather than individual assignments.

  • Arts teachers, even those relatively skilled and comfortable with standards for art education, will be working with larger populations in new ways.

  • Proficiency is going to require a serious examination of existing resources, particularly where all students have not had equal access to arts learning.

Teams and the Process of Defining Proficiency in the Arts in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Board of Regents opened the door to a new era in arts education in the Ocean State when they voted to include the arts as a required proficiency for graduating seniors. Of course, the regulation was only the beginning of a process to make arts education for all a reality in our state.

Proficiency team members were charged with the task of creating a working definition of proficiency for their respective areas. Rhode Island has rich experience in standards-based education, and content standards in the arts have been in use for a number of years. A working definition of proficiency was agreed on:

Demonstrated standards-based skills and/or knowledge judged on evidence provided by the learner.

Teams were asked to answer an essential question:

What are the criteria for judging a body of evidence in order to determine if it meets exit level proficiency in a given art form?

Teams were asked to answer this question by providing written definitions of proficiency, samples of student work at the proficient level, and models of how proficiency assessment could happen in a school district.


To say the teams went off individually and did their work is not meant to minimize the countless hours of hard work and deep discussion that went on across the states for the next few months. On the contrary, this is where the ‘miracle’ of proficiency in the arts occurred. A minimal support structure was provided to keep the teams in touch with one another and a flow of resources going to them, but they basically grappled with the big questions of proficiency within their individual content areas.

In May of 2003 the teams assembled as a group for the second time at Providence College. On that day, each team presented a mock proficiency assessment, based on their work to date. We were joined by invited speakers Rosemary Fitton-Abell and Pam Paulson, who shared their expertise and experience in arts proficiency assessment work from Minnesota and Wyoming. They also provided critical feedback on the work done to date by each team. The day was rich in learning, and provided a real focus for the teams to complete their work.

The information and processes on this page are the result of this teamwork, but really represent only a beginning, and guidance to districts and schools as they begin to implement the reality of arts proficiency for all.

Teams Members

Dance Proficiency Team

Oliver, Wendy
Co-Chair :: Director of Dance
Providence College

Callahan, Tricia
private studio in Newport

Colaneri, Elaine
Dance Teacher
Providence schools, private studio in Providence

Lai, Jessica
Scituate High School

Lamdiase, Laura
East Greenwich High School

Lamdiase, Helen

Meunier, Deb
Artistic Director
Fusionworks Dance Company and School

Robidoux, Raechel
Johnston schools

Rodrigues, Solanchy

Sprague, Marty
Co-Chair :: Dance Educator from Providence schools

Stabile, Ron
Middle School Teacher
East Greenwich Middle School

Thurber, Margy

Williams, Sarah
Student :: Scituate High School

McGreevy Nichols, Sue
Galef Institute

Music Proficiency Team

Neves, David
Chair :: Teacher
Scituate High School :: RI Music Educators Association

Bailey, Suzanne
Music Teacher
Elementary School :: Harrisville Elementary

Tinkham, Allen
Supervisor of Music
Warwick School Department

Enriquez, Joyce Bernau
Classical High School

Degraide, Brad
Teacher Coventry High School

Holt, Michelle
Higher Ed. :: (President RIMEA) Providence College

Cichy, Patricia
Higher Ed. :: Providence College

Woythaler, Susan
Rhode Island Alliance for Arts Education

Support For The Team Proficiency Process

Brown, Sherilyn
Education Director
RI State Council on the Arts

Cervone, Laureen
Program Specialist
The Education Alliance at Brown University

DeBeer, Lynne
Project Coordinator
RI Arts Learning Network

Theatre Proficiency Team

Babbitt, Donald
Chair :: Retired Theatre Educator

Bianco, Barbara
Cranston West

Crothers, James
Chair, RIAAE
University of Rhode Island- Theatre Dept

Maron, Rita
Parent :: Director of after school performing arts program in Johnston

Perrotti, Tom
Retired Educator :: member RI Theatre Association

Perrotti, Leah
Moses Brown

McGuire, Tom
Freelance Playwright

Fennessey, Sharon
Rhode Island College

Jones, Alonzo
Technical Director
Rights and Reasons :: Brown University

Vitulli, Nancy
Cranston West

Visual Arts Proficiency Team

Burns, Rosemary
Co-Chair :: High School Art Teacher & Advocacy Chair

Saunders, Stephen
RI Art Education Association

Camputaro, Deanna
Central Falls High School

Chamberlin, John
Associate Professor of Art Education :: Rhode Island School of Design & President
RI Art Education Association

Chartier, Jeannine
Executive Director
VS Arts of RI

Duffy, Cynthia
Art Teacher
East Greenwich High School

Geisser, Peter
Artist (leaded glass) :: Visual Arts Teacher :: Former art teacher, RI School for the Deaf

Mullen, Christine
High School Art Teacher & President Elect, RI
Mt. Hope High School

Travis, Laura
Art Teacher
Hope High School

Brodeur, Erica
Art Teacher
Pawtucket School System

Payne, Arlene
RI Art Education Association

Williams, Cheryl
Rhode Island College