Capistrano Unified School District – The MITRE Project
- Traditional, charter, magnet
- Urban, suburban
- Elementary, middle, high school
- Dance, music, theatre, visual arts
- Standards-based curriculum
District middle school visual arts teachers met monthly for three hours after school throughout a year to create a standards-based curriculum for our students that would have clear goals, outcomes, and embedded assessment, the Model Integrated Tasks with Rubrics and Examples (MITRE) project. The team received professional development from The California Arts Project on lesson design and assessment methods, and sorted a variety of existing lessons already in use to develop rubrics for the knowledge and skills achievement in the lessons. Student work was collected that clearly demonstrated specific qualities of each level of the rubric. In other words, “What does a one look like? Here’s a sample. What does a two look like? Here’s a sample.” The MITRE book was published with lessons, rubrics, and full-color reproductions of student work by the district to be disseminated to all middle schools. Team members provided the professional development to other district teachers. The program is now in use across the district and two new MITRE books have been published in visual arts, as well as one in theatre. The district now purchases visual arts supplies each year to support the MITRE program at each site. All kindergarten through third grade students attend music classes 1-2 times per week for a 30-minute lesson. These music lessons are based on the grade-level standards outlined in the State framework and they are integrated into these children’s spelling, math, and language arts learning. Choral music is emphasized, but the students learn to use rhythm instruments as well. Student trade books are used to enhance the music lessons as well as the students’ reading. In grades four and five, the students attend music twice a week for 30 minutes and learn additional music theory, the recorder, and have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. All five arts component strands are addressed as the teacher has all grades analyze musical pieces, learn about composers and their influences, and connect to other learning. At the end of fifth grade, they may audition for the 6th through 8th grade band and choirs. 90% of the students audition. These students form the Men’s Ensemble, Women’s Chorus, Tone Chime Choir, and the band. Their success is based on the K-5 music program for all students. All students, including learning and physically disabled students and second language students, are included in the program. The students are given oral and written examinations to assess their progress. They do regular performances and are encouraged to participate in competitions that can and do lead to state and national recognition. The students learn to sing solo, in groups, and as full choirs. They learn theory and musical notation. They are assessed in all categories by the teacher. The teacher uses CDs, videos, various rhythm instruments, tone chimes, and other traditional approaches to teaching music. At Monson-Sultana, the superintendent provides a designated budget with which the music coordinator purchases music, buys and repairs instruments, and provides conference attendance and any other supplies that are needed for the program. For extra expenses, such as program tee shirts and polo shirts, trips for exceptional students to travel to competitions, etc., the Booster Club of the school provides funding. The Wallen Foundation of Visalia, CA, covers expenses for those students who qualify for state and national competitions. The superintendent/principal, Tom Giampietro, opted not to hire a vice-principal in order to have the music program. This decision has been a source of pride for the school in that it has improved test scores, attendance, and general school discipline. This program will be maintained for a long time.