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Making Leaps and Bounds in Dance Teacher Certification

Date: 17 October 2018

Dance — when taught by a qualified dance educator and integrated into the K-12 curriculum — keeps students engaged in school, enhances academic learning, instills 21st century skills and improves overall school culture. However, dance is not included as a universal discipline in K-12, in part because there is no national teaching examination that serves as an entry point for certification and subject-matter competency. Without an exam that verifies teachers’ content knowledge and instructional abilities, many states are unable to support a dance credential.

In 2012, the National Dance Education Organization, in partnership with the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education and supported by two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, began developing the Dance Entry Level Teacher Assessment (DELTA). NDEO and SEADAE sought to build national consensus around baseline competencies that ensure entry-level, K-12 public school dance educators enter the field with the content knowledge and skills (aligned with the National Core Arts Standards) necessary for success. The DELTA can serve as a pathway to dance certification, providing one measure of subject-matter competency, requisite knowledge and skills needed by dance educators. Used alongside other assessment methods, such as portfolio reviews and student teaching, the DELTA can help ensure that prospective dance teachers are prepared to enter the studio.

Colleges and universities can also use the DELTA to assess their dance programs. As NDEO Past President Dale Schmid attests, “The vision for DELTA is that it becomes both a gateway to dance licensure and mechanism for ongoing programmatic improvement of preservice education.”  For Nikki Flinn, professor of dance at Hope College in Holland, Mich., the DELTA provides a way “to evaluate, redesign and measure competency for the teaching readiness of our dance education students.”

At the time of this writing, several states — including Maine and Delaware — have adopted the DELTA as a required pre-service examination for dance teachers. Policymakers in Arkansas, Michigan, New Jersey and Utah, among other states, are currently discussing the adoption and/or endorsement of the DELTA. The analysis of field test data shows solid evidence to indicate that the DELTA serves as a coherent, valid and reliable instrument for measuring subject-matter competency. As this exam is implemented widely, colleges and universities will be able to better evaluate their teacher preparation programs and encourage more states to implement a dance credential for their K-12 educators — expanding the presence of dance in K-12 education. As a result, more dance educators will be better prepared to enter the field and serve more students, who will reap the many benefits of dance education.

This guest post comes from Susan McGreevy-Nichols, executive director, and Shannon Dooling-Cain, special projects coordinator, at the National Dance Education Organization.

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits