Tennessee Dance Standards

Tennessee Academic Standards for Fine Arts Education

Dance and Theatre Introduction

The fine arts have always been an intrinsic part of a quality, well-rounded education— the kind of education Tennessee educators strive every day to offer our students. The incorporation of dance into public school education offers many of the necessary life skills that will help students to be productive and successful citizens in society, in addition to preparing students for paths of dance at the collegiate or possible career level. The skills offered through the arts, and in dance specifically, are exactly those Tennesseans strive to teach our students in all disciplines: positive self-expression and self-confidence, productive communication, teamwork and collaboration, critical analysis and evaluation, self-discipline, a strong work ethic, and the motivation to continuously strive towards excellence in any given task. To that end, these new teaching standards for dance serve to give all stakeholders in our students’ education—teachers, parents, administrators, students, and community members—a rigorous and effective tool to facilitate dance education in our schools.

When writing these new standards, the writing team relied on the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS), a voluntary framework to guide arts education across America. (Read more about the NCAS here.) In the foreword to the NCAS it states,

The central purposes of education standards are to identify the learning that we want for all of our students and to drive improvement in the system that delivers that learning. Standards, therefore, should embody the key concepts, processes and traditions of study in each subject area, and articulate the aspirations of those invested in our schools—students, teachers, administrators, and the community at large.

With this explanation in mind, these standards were built the framework of the NCAS which is built on four key domains: Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Connecting, and Responding. Within each of these domains are foundations and standards to support the development of curriculum, programs, and learning in dance. By keeping the domains and foundations of the NCAS, there is continuity not only across fine arts in Tennessee, but also across the US.

Each domain houses standards for each grade level through grade 8; then, standards for varying levels of dance and theatre proficiency in high school: beginner (HS1), intermediate (HS2), advanced (HS3), and pre-professional (HS4). There are instances where the standards between (HS3) and (HS4) look similar at each level. In these instances, the underlying concepts should increase in rigor from year to year.

This framework allows for greater teacher flexibility while also increasing rigor in the discipline and keeping many of the positive elements from the original Tennessee state standards. On the following page is an outline for a suggested progression through the foundations, intended to help guide instructors through the new format and language of the dance standards.

Overall, this updated set of standards is designed for teacher flexibility. Teachers are the best judges of how to plan, build, implement, assess, and differentiate instruction. Teachers have access to and support from a variety of resources and should be able to use those resources in the way they see fit to best facilitate their instruction. These standards are purposefully broad for the sake of district curriculum development. Tennessee is a broad and diverse state with many cultures, practices, and values. It is important that every district be given autonomy to design a curriculum that is authentic to their population.


Summit 2017

Picnic with the standards

Dr. Tina Curran presented an adaptation of Barbara Bashaw's Picnic with the Standards at the 2017 Dance Professionals' Summit. To review the original material please visit Ms. Bashaw's Google Site.

Following are resources from Dr Curran's Presentation

Power Point

Link to teaching video presented at the Summit.

National Core Arts Standards Structure

PAPER STRIPS NCAS Standards_HSI-Proficient

TN Academic Standards for Fine Arts Education Structure