Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Arts

Information relating to arts education programming, content knowledge, and pedagogy for California educators.

The California Department of Education (CDE) provides leadership, technical assistance, and guidance for teachers, administrators, families, state and local educational agencies, professional organizations, and collaborating partners to implement high-quality, equitable arts education programs for all students, prekindergarten to grade twelve.

Follow us on twitter! @CaArtsEd

Distance Learning

Professional Learning during Physical Distancing

The following national resources provide guidance and professional learning opportunities for arts educators during the COVID-19 response.

California Art Education Association (CAEA) External link opens in new window or tab.
California Music Educators Association (CMEA) External link opens in new window or tab.
National Art Education Association (NAEA) External link opens in new window or tab.

California educators may wish to contact the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Regional Leads at CCSESA Regional Arts Leads External link opens in new window or tab. and The California Arts Project (TCAP) Regional Sites at TCAP Regional Sites External link opens in new window or tab. for their county to learn about additional supports for distance learning that may be available in their region.

Distance Learning Resources for Arts Instruction

Even outside of the classroom, students can still be actively engaged in quality arts instruction. For a curated list of distance learning instructional resources in a variety of subject areas, visit the CDE Distance Learning web page under the Content Resources tab.

Guidance

The California Department of Education (CDE) assists prekindergarten to twelfth grade school districts and county offices of education in the planning and implementation of comprehensive programs in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts.

Content Standards

The California Arts Standards provide guidance toward a common goal—for all California students to fully participate in a rich and well-rounded arts education. The standards are comprehensive for all students in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. They build from grade to grade and embody grade-and age-appropriate key concepts, processes, and traditions of study in each of the five artistic disciplines: dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. They provide important guidance for schools to design and organize teaching and learning; understand and evaluate student learning; and prepare, adopt, or adapt instructional resources. The standards identify the learning outcomes for all students, and they guide teachers to provide a unified quality arts education so that these outcomes are achieved.

Framework

While the California Arts Standards map out a pathway for a standards-based arts education in the five artistic disciplines, the California Arts Education Framework provides guidance for implementation of the standards as well as guidance for planning instruction and assessment. It includes models and examples of arts integration, and supports curriculum development and standards implementation within each discipline. Additionally, the framework provides information on supporting arts education in a school or district and criteria for arts education instructional materials adoption. 

Preschool Learning Foundations

The preschool learning foundations are a critical step in the CDE’s efforts to strengthen preschool education and school readiness and to close the achievement gap in California. The arts offer preschool children many ways to experience playful exploration, self-expression, creativity, and the joy of learning. The arts also support preschool children’s learning and development in varied and meaningful ways. During the preschool period, the arts are more about the process (in the sense of participation, engagement, and involvement) than about the product, or the end result, of artistic activity. Visit the Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume1, Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 2 (PDF), and Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 3 (PDF).

Career Technical Education

Arts Media and Entertainment (AME) is one of 15 Career Technical Education (CTE) industry sectors in California. AME programs serve over 281,000 students and are designed to prepare them for careers in creative industries. The four AME pathways include performing arts, production and managerial arts, design, visual and media arts, and game design and integration. AME programs advance the California Arts Standards and include a career readiness component, allowing students to pursue advanced and pre-professional training. Students in AME programs learn industry-standard skills and competencies as they complete a sequential program of study. The AME California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards and Academic Alignment Matrix on page 22 of the Model Curriculum Standards illustrate content standard integration in AME programs.

National Arts Standards

National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) External link opens in new window or tab.

The NCAS are housed on a website that is designed to let teachers create their own customized handbooks based on the grade levels and subjects they teach. For each arts discipline, there is a "standards at a glance" page.

State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) External link opens in new window or tab.

Explore the interactive U.S. map External link opens in new window or tab. on the SEADAE web page to view arts instructional resources state by state.

Instructional Materials

Information and resources for instructional materials are available on the CDE Instructional Materials web page.

Legislation and Policies Related to Arts Education

There are a number of statutory provisions, policies, and guidelines regarding the teaching of the arts that local educational agencies should be aware of to continue to build strong arts education programs that ensure equitable access to all students. These statutory provisions cover such topics as inclusion of the five disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts in the curriculum; use of hazardous materials; areas of study; and adoption of standards and materials. Additional information is available below:

  • California Education Code (EC) Section 51210 External link opens in new window or tab. (grades one through six)
  • EC Section 51220 External link opens in new window or tab. (grades seven through twelve)

For further information governing arts education, please see the 2020 California Arts Education Framework, Appendix A, pages 1–9. Topics included here are EC citations for the rationale for arts education, areas of study, graduation requirements, content standards, prohibited instruction, art materials safety, implementation of curriculum, and extracurricular activities.

The California Alliance for Arts Education External link opens in new window or tab. includes a number of resources for further information on legislation and advocacy, including Research and Resources External link opens in new window or tab., California Education Policy External link opens in new window or tab., and federal legislation regarding arts education.

Guidelines for Hazardous Materials

A list of art and craft materials that may not be purchased for use in kindergarten through grade six is available from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) External link opens in new window or tab..

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes proper management of waste and residuals from art studios and shop practices in their publication, Environmental Health and Safety in the Arts: Guide for K-12 Schools, Colleges and Artisans External link opens in new window or tab.

Awards

California Exemplary Arts Education Award

Recognizes some of California’s exemplary schools for excellence in arts education. Schools selected for the Exemplary Arts Education Award demonstrate broad-based achievement in arts instruction and for advancing the arts for all students.

Organizations

The California Department of Education (CDE) is supported in their efforts to disseminate pertinent information by the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) External link opens in new window or tab., the California County Superintendents Arts Initiative External link opens in new window or tab., The California Arts Project (TCAP) External link opens in new window or tab., the California Arts Council External link opens in new window or tab., and Create CA External link opens in new window or tab..

State Resources

California Art Education Association (CAEA) External link opens in new window or tab.

CAEA supports educators by anchoring the elements and principles of design in meaningful instruction.

California Music Education Association (CMEA) External link opens in new window or tab.

The CMEA supports educational efforts to promote quality music instruction for the children and adults of California.

California Dance Education Association (CDEA) External link opens in new window or tab.

The CDEA aims to establish dance as an integral part of all school curricula for kindergarten through post-secondary.

California Educational Theatre Association (CETA) External link opens in new window or tab.

CETA’s vision is for every California student to experience the highest standards of theatre arts education.

California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Arts Initiative External link opens in new window or tab.

The CCSESA Arts Initiative provides arts curriculum support, technical assistance, and professional learning services for teachers, administrators, and community members utilizing the statewide county office of education infrastructure. County superintendents and their staff work with the business and arts communities for a systemic state (research, resources, support) and local (data gathering, education, courses of study, and professional development) approach to increase access to arts education at every grade level.

The California Arts Project (TCAP) External link opens in new window or tab.

TCAP is a collaborative, statewide network of classroom teachers and university scholars with the mission of improving teaching and learning in dance, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts. As the state Subject Matter Project for the Arts, TCAP's network of teacher leaders advocate for and strive to ensure access for all California students to a sequential, comprehensive, and excellent standards-based arts instruction and career technical education.

Core Reforms Engaging Arts to Educate (CREATE CA) External link opens in new window or tab.

This statewide coalition of agencies and organizational partners is leading an education reform movement that views arts education as an essential part of the solution to problems facing California schools.

California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) External link opens in new window or tab.

The CAAE promotes, supports, and advocates for high-quality arts education for preschool through post-secondary students in California schools. See the Insider's Guide to Arts Education Planning External link opens in new window or tab. for tips on how to write a district/school arts plan.

California Arts Council (CAC) External link opens in new window or tab.

The CAC promotes public will and resources for the arts, fosters accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from California’s diverse populations, serves as a thought leader and champion for the arts, and provides relevant programs and services.

Turnaround Arts: California External link opens in new window or tab.

In partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Turnaround Arts: California infuses schools with creative resources such as art supplies, musical instruments, and licensing rights to perform school musicals. They mentor principals to lead for change through the arts, and support teachers to integrate the arts into other subjects, like reading and math. They provide funding for schools to partner with local arts organizations, bring teaching artists into the classroom, and connect school teams to arts education experts and networks of peer schools.

National Resources

Arts Education Partnership (AEP) External link opens in new window or tab.

The AEP is a national network of more than 100 organizations dedicated to advancing arts education. AEP has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education since 1995 and is administered by Education Commission of the States.

Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) External link opens in new window or tab.

Promotes and advances theatre education and provides resources for scripts, directing, designing, producing, Shakespeare, dramaturgy, musicals, copyrighting, play writing, and Thespian connections.

National Art Education Association External link opens in new window or tab.

Promotes art education through professional development, service, advancement of knowledge, and leadership.

National Association for Music Education (NAfMe) External link opens in new window or tab.

Since 1907, NAfME has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. NAfME’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Core Arts Standards External link opens in new window or tab..

National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) External link opens in new window or tab.

NDEO provides professional development, networking forums, honor societies, journals, research, and advocacy tools for teachers, administrators, and students in the field of dance education.

Arts Education Data Project

Create CA External link opens in new window or tab., the CDE, and the Arts Education Data Project External link opens in new window or tab. have joined together in the California Arts Education Data Project External link opens in new window or tab. to provide a rich and comprehensive source for arts education data at the secondary level. Data from 2013 forward is presented in a visual dashboard format at state, county, district, and school levels. Resources include:

  • An Interactive Dashboard
  • An Executive Summary
  • A 5-minute video on how to navigate the data project
  • A Data Tutorial
  • A Communication and Action Toolkit
  • A Roadmap for School Districts External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Professional Learning

Resources and information that support educator professional learning.

California Department of Education (CDE) Arts Standards Webinar Series External link opens in new window or tab.

The CDE, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association and The California Arts Project (TCAP) have collaborated to produce an Arts Standards Webinar Series which may be useful to arts educators to build understanding of the 2019 California Arts Standards as they plan standards-based lessons.

California Arts Media Entertainment (AME) External link opens in new window or tab.

The Arts, Media, and Entertainment career industry sector requires extensive cross-disciplinary interaction through project-based learning that requires both independent work and interdependent management skills for career success. Helpful tools include a matrix that illustrates content standard integration in AME programs.

CDE Professional Learning Database

A searchable database of professional learning opportunities available throughout California and online.

California Art Education Association (CAEA) External link opens in new window or tab.

Dedicated to the advancement of arts education through professional development, teacher resources, programs, and recognition of achievements.

Creativity at the Core, Professional Learning Modules External link opens in new window or tab.

Professional learning modules developed by Regional Arts County Leads and arts organization partners. There are 21 modules connecting arts learning to the 2019 California Arts Standards.

Professional Learning Module, Content Literacy for Technical Subjects External link opens in new window or tab.

Ten modules available in both online and on-site professional learning formats. The 2004 Visual and Performing Arts Standards and connections to Common Core State Standards are thoroughly covered in the online professional learning module titled, “Content Literacy for Technical Subjects,” which was developed by TCAP.

Teaching Artist Guild of California (TAG) External link opens in new window or tab.

TAG is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives External link opens in new window or tab., is a member-driven organization committed to the professionalization and visibility of artists who teach.

The California Arts Project (TCAP) External link opens in new window or tab.

Provides professional development support to deepen teachers' knowledge of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual art and to enhance student success.

Society for American Music External link opens in new window or tab.

Building credibility for music and music education, especially at an early age.

Instructional Resources

The following websites provide instructional resources to help teachers find lesson ideas for the classroom.

American Alliance for Theatre and Education External link opens in new window or tab.

Promotes theatre arts education, supports classroom instruction, and provides higher education resources.

Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) External link opens in new window or tab.

Promotes and advances theatre education. Provides resources for scripts, directing, designing, producing, Shakespeare, dramaturgy, musicals, copyrighting, play writing, and Thespian connections.

Education Development Center External link opens in new window or tab.

An international, nonprofit organization. Their Digital Media Arts External link opens in new window or tab. web page offers free Career Technical Education curriculum for high school students that includes overviews and tutorials.

The Music Center, Los Angeles External link opens in new window or tab.

Comprehensive lesson plans designed to help teachers engage their students with works of dance, theatre, and music.

National Gallery of Art External link opens in new window or tab.

Offers a variety of resources and programs for teachers to foster students’ understanding and a lifelong connection to art.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts External link opens in new window or tab.

Serving the nation as a leader in arts education.

Lincoln Center at Home External link opens in new window or tab.

A performing arts center representing 12 organizations (including Julliard, Metropolitan Opera, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center) and links to examples of kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms across the nation.

Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture External link opens in new window or tab.

Fosters accessibility to the arts in Los Angeles County.

Smithsonian American Art Museum External link opens in new window or tab.

Art collections, including textiles—fiber, yarn, fabric; fashion illustration, paintings, lithographs, photography, ceramics, book illustration, and 150 years of prints of American art.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History External link opens in new window or tab.

Features collections in art, music, textiles, photography, architecture, cultures and communities, and advertising.

Smithsonian Cultures and Communities External link opens in new window or tab.

Artifacts include furniture, cooking wares, clothing, works of art, representing a variety of communities and cultures.

Smithsonian Chamber Music Society External link opens in new window or tab.

Music collections, performances and public programs, and resources for educators, including the Smithsonian Jazz Class.

Student Programs

Information for students on arts opportunities located throughout the United States.

Berklee College of Music Summer Programs External link opens in new window or tab.

Students spend the summer in Boston making music with students from all over the world who share the same passion. For middle school and higher.

California College of the Arts (CCA) External link opens in new window or tab.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the CCA offers a month-long program for high school students who specialize in art, architecture, creative writing, or design.

Idyllwild Arts External link opens in new window or tab.

Idyllwild Arts offers two programs: The Arts Academy provides pre-professional training in the Arts and a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum to a diverse student body of gifted young artists from all over the world. The Arts Summer Program provides arts instruction and experiences to a diverse student population of all ages and abilities.

InnerSpark: California State Summer School for the Arts External link opens in new window or tab.

Supports high school students to receive training in the arts through summer intensive sessions.

Interlochen Center for the Arts External link opens in new window or tab.

Located in beautiful northwest Michigan, Interlochen Arts Camp offers summer programs for grades three through twelve.

MPulse—University of Michigan External link opens in new window or tab.

Known for their musical theatre programs, MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes on the Ann Arbor campus, inspire high school students to exciting new levels of excellence in music performance, music technology, musical theatre, theatre, and dance.

OTIS College of Arts and Design External link opens in new window or tab.

The Summer of Art at Otis is a four-week intensive course aimed at artists in high school or beyond who want to improve their trades.

The Putney School of Performing Arts External link opens in new window or tab.

The Putney School Summer Arts Program, located in southern Vermont, is a three-week program that allows students to dive into any two art forms they love or long to try. Find creative friends, learn from experts, and let your creativity loose, all at a gorgeous boarding school campus.

Ringling College of Art and Design External link opens in new window or tab.

Located in Sarasota Florida, every summer, high school students from around the world come to Ringling College for an intense four-week art and design program to experience a taste of college life and earn college credit. Participants live in Ringling dorms, learn essential concepts of art and design, and get acquainted with cutting-edge, professional facilities.

Updates

To receive quarterly updates from the California Department of Education about arts education, please sign up for our listserv.

Follow us on Twitter @CaArtsEd.

Questions: Diane Crum | DCrum@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0270 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Related Content
  • California Arts Education Framework
    Guidelines for implementing the content standards adopted by the California State Board of Education that are developed by the Instructional Quality Commission.
  • Instructional Materials for VPA
    Information and resources for instructional materials.
  • Quality Schooling Framework
    The Quality Schooling Framework (QSF) is the California educator’s destination for timely tools and practices to guide effective planning, policy, expenditure, and instructional decisions at all schools and districts.
Recently Posted in Curriculum Areas
  • SSCE Implementation Guidance (added 23-Sep-2020)
    Considerations to structure local State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE) implementation.
  • SSCE Criteria Development (added 23-Sep-2020)
    Information regarding the development of the State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE) criteria.