Visual & Performing Arts

Course Criteria & Guidance

All courses approved for the visual and performing arts (VPA, F) subject requirement will provide students with a meaningful experience with both depth and breadth of knowledge in the arts, so that students may apply their newly gained understanding to the appreciation and creation of art in its diverse forms. Courses must be directed at acquiring concepts, comprehensions, and skills in the arts disciplines, rather than using artistic activities to fulfill non-artistic course objectives. Fundamentally, they will address the major components of the California Arts Standards for Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Arts Standards).

Course Content Guidelines

Courses meeting the VPA (F) subject requirement will:

  • Provide opportunities for students to participate in all aspects of the artistic process, including creation, presenting, producing, performing, responding, critiquing, and connecting.
    • They will also, as relevant, offer opportunities to discuss artistic ideas with other students, read texts within the art discipline studied (including art works but also written critiques, etc.), and write clearly and coherently on artistic topics.
  • Include activities or assignments that ask students to document and summarize their work in an appropriate written format, especially if the course is teaching a specific set of skills that must be developed outside of class time (e.g., portfolio/performance preparation, instrument practice, research projects, and/or critical listening/viewing).
  • Include a variety of assessments of conceptual artistic understanding as well as mastery of creative practices, skills, and artistic literacies. These measures could include, but are not limited to:
    • Authentic performance and/or exhibition opportunities, discipline-appropriate creative projects, collaborative projects, student portfolios, written exams, research and written projects, and multimedia presentations.
  • Incorporate culturally relevant topics and activities, real-world problems, and applications that are appropriate for the context of the school community and the course content. Maintaining a balance of theoretical and historical/cultural context with skills-based content is essential, especially in production courses that primarily serve school events (e.g., newspaper, yearbook, broadcast).
1 year required

One year of college-preparatory visual & performing arts required, chosen from one of the following disciplines: dance, music, theater, visual arts (e.g., painting, web/graphic design, film/video, inter/multimedia arts), or interdisciplinary arts.

For information on how a student can fulfill UC A-G admissions requirements, please visit the UC Admissions website.

Skills Guidelines

Engagement in the arts includes the creative process of persisting, envisioning, observing, analyzing, reflecting, and exploring new ways of working or thinking. As such, courses that fulfill the VPA (F) subject requirement will support students to:

  1. Develop and refine artistic techniques and methods in order to interpret, analyze, and conceptualize artwork.
  2. Acquire and use written, verbal, or nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts to convey meaning through the production, performance, presentation, and/or exhibition of works of art through active practice, rehearsal, and/or creation.
  3. Study and gain an understanding of the social, cultural, and historical contributions and dimensions of the arts.
  4. Use artistic processes and a variety of theoretical perspectives to analyze and share formal critiques on the aesthetic choices, impact, and purpose of works of art.
  5. Apply theories, artistic processes, technologies, and methodologies from within one art form to another arts/media form or academic disciplines.

Honors Course Criteria & Guidance

Honors-level VPA courses will be demonstrably more challenging than non-honors courses, and will fulfill the following criteria:

  • General A-G honors-level course criteria.
  • Will have as a prerequisite at least one year of college-preparatory work in the discipline or comparable (alternative) experience that includes the California Arts Standards for Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Arts Standards).
    • Or, the course may be open to students who have not completed the prerequisite college-preparatory work but whose preparation in the art form is at a high artistic level and who can demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in all five component strands of the art form.
    • Alternative entrance into the honors-level course shall be by audition/demonstration and a standards-based content exam (oral, written, or portfolio/performance).
  • Require in-depth written assignments that demonstrate student knowledge across the component strands and related arts standards.
  • Include a variety of individual assessments with a comprehensive final examination in the form of a recital, production, analytical/historical paper or exhibition, and that will include a written component (in the case of a recital, exhibition or production) and post-performance presentation as the culmination of their “capstone project,” as well as other assessment tools appropriate to the five strands of the art form, and representative of high levels of analysis and self-evaluation.
    • Dance - Capstone projects:
      • Will include a written analytical or historical research document that may be presented to peers in either a classroom or public forum.
      • May include, but are not limited to, sophisticated choreography, advanced written and oral research and analysis, advanced kinesthetic mastery, and historical and/or performance knowledge of many genres of dance.  
    • Music - Capstone projects will:
      • Include, but are not limited to, solo and/or small ensemble performance, score analysis, musical composition and/or arranging, critical analysis of individual performances by others, and critical self-analysis through portfolio development.
        • Given that some musical traditions do not support solo and/or small ensemble performance, an alternative capstone would be a more in-depth paper and presentation detailing elements of their specific cultural tradition.
      • Include a classroom or public presentation of a document related to the project, with content either analytical and/or historical in nature and demonstrating the student’s engagement with music they are creating and/or performing.
    • Theater - Capstone projects will:
      • Require students to demonstrate artistic leadership. Collaborative skills continue to be essential in students’ work, but the honors distinction is that the individual is responsible for organizing others to complete a theatrical performance project (e.g., by serving as producer of the project or chief of a major area of production).
      • Include a post-performance analysis.
    • Visual arts - Capstone projects:
      • May include, but are not limited to, compiling a body of work at the mastery level in a particular arts medium (e.g., produce an artist website, produce a film salon, curate a gallery exhibition), or written research and analysis of a particular genre, style, or historical period.
      • Will include critical self-analysis through portfolio development, solo exhibition of original work and post-exhibition classroom or public presentation about the exhibition experience, or a presentation of the research and analysis project.

Core Competencies

All approved courses will be designed with the explicit intention of developing and encouraging artistic habits and dispositions important for university-level studies.

Moreover, in the California of the 21st century, a focus on the arts may better prepare students to participate in the social, cultural, and intellectual interplay among people of differing cultural backgrounds and national origins.

The core competencies students gain from their VPA courses are aligned with the California Arts Standards for Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Arts Standards).