Arts Commencement Assessments

Who takes this test?

If you are in Grade 12 and have completed 10 semester credits in a single art form (dance, music, theater, or visual arts), you are eligible to take an Arts Commencement Assessment. Each art form has its own test (assessment).

What is on the test?

Dance

The Commencement Assessment in Dance has three parts:

1. Performance task

Perform a 16-count dance combination in ballet, modern dance, West African, or jazz. The teacher chooses the style. You will also be asked to choreograph your own 1-minute movement sequence that includes a set of dance elements such as travel, elevate, make a shape, or change levels.

2. Exit Project and Reflective Essay

Complete an exit project, sometimes called a final project, along with an essay reflecting on what you learned during your final project. For dance students, an exit project could be a portfolio of dance performances or a collection of choreography. Check with your dance teacher for specific requirements.  

3. Written Assessment

The test is comprised of multiple-choice questions, short answers, and an essay section.

Music

The Commencement Assessment in Music has three parts:

1. NYSSMA Solo Adjudication

Perform a solo selection from the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) adjudication festival repertoire list. Your selection must be at the appropriate difficulty level (1–6). Ask your school music teacher for the list.

You will also be asked to sight-read a piece of music chosen by your teacher or judge. Instrumentalists will be asked to perform scales or basic technical exercises.

2. Exit Project and Reflective Essay

Document four performances: two in-school performances and two out-of-school performances, and write an essay about what you learned from those four performances.

3. Written Assessment

The test is comprised of multiple-choice questions, short answers, and an essay section.

Theater

The Commencement Assessment in Theater has three parts:

1. Performance Task

Perform a scene with a partner. The scene will be given to you by your teacher or adjudicator. You and your partner will have five minutes to read, stage, and rehearse the scene. After performing the scene for your teacher or adjudicator, you will be asked to perform the scene again but with a specific adjustment to the scene.

2. Exit Project and Reflective Essay

Complete an exit project, sometimes called a final project, along with an essay reflecting on what you learned during your final project. Your project must focus on performance, direction, design, playwriting, or theater history. Check with your theater teacher for specific requirements.  

3. Written Assessment

The test is comprised of multiple-choice questions, short answers, and an essay section.

Visual Arts

The Commencement Assessment in Visual Arts has three parts:

1. Performance Task

You will be asked to create two things:

  1. A two-dimensional piece of artwork, in color
  2. A black-and-white drawing from observation, for example, a landscape, an object, or a portrait.

2. Portfolio and Reflective Essay

Select five original pieces in 1-2 areas of specialization. Portfolios pieces are adjudicated individually. In addition to your five selected pieces, include an essay about what you learned while making the pieces. Your portfolio must be completed before the written assessment.

3. Written Assessment

The test is comprised of multiple-choice questions and an essay section.

When is this test given?

Each Arts Commencement Assessment is given in three parts:

Dance

  • The performance task is held on January 22, 2019.
  • The reflective essay and exit project is due on May 17, 2019.
  • The written assessment is on June 3, 2019.

Music

  • The performance task is administered by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) and dates vary by borough. Speak with your school music teacher for additional information.
  • The written assessment is held on January 22, 2019.
  • The reflective essay and performance portfolio are due by April 15, 2019.

Theater

  • The performance task is held on January 22, 2019.
  • The reflective essay and exit project is due on May 17, 2019.
  • The written assessment is on June 3, 2019.

Visual Arts

  • Your portfolio and reflective essay are due on May 17, 2019.
  • The written assessment is held on June 3, 2019.
  • The performance task is held on June 3, 2019.

How is the test scored?

Performance tasks, portfolios, exit projects, short answers, and essays use rubrics based on the Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts to score. The multiple-choice section of the exam is scanned and machine-scored. All exams are created by assessment committees and have been reviewed by assessment experts. The final score is the sum of points earned on all sections. Students pass the exam with a score of 65 or more out of 100.

How are the results reported?

The results of the Arts Commencement Assessment exam are reported on a student’s transcript.

How are the results used?

If you pass the test, you will earn a Regent’s Endorsed Diploma with Advanced Designation in the Arts. If you are a dance or visual art student and you have 6–8 credits in your respective subject, you can take the test and earn a Certificate of Arts Achievement. Ask your school if it offers this option and how you might qualify.

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