Standard Course of Study & Supporting Resources

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Visit the Documents Page to download Standards, Crosswalks, Glossaries, and Unpacking Documents for the NC Standard Course of Study in Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts.

The Office of Academic Standards presented the DRC reports to the State Board of Education and received permission to revise standards on June 1, 2023. Please ensure that you are signed up for the Arts Education Newsletter to receive all news about Standard Writing Team Applications, Draft Updates, and Implementation of new standards. 

The Arts Education Team at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has compiled all relevant information pertaining to Comprehensive Arts Education in K-12 Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts into this document to provide clarity around the unique framework for North Carolina Arts Education.

The content is presented in four sections:

  1. What is Comprehensive Arts Education? - An overview of the legislation and task force findings which support Comprehensive Arts Education in North Carolina for reference.
  2. Arts Education - This section guides access to the resources necessary to provide instruction of an arts discipline according to the Standard Course of Study to develop the student as an artist.
  3. Arts Integration - This section provides guidance on how to provide instruction designed to show students how non arts content connects to arts content in both areas.
  4. Arts Exposure - This section provides information on how to curate experiences for students which are authentic and also aligned to the Standard Course of Study. Arts Exposure gives students the opportunity to experience the arts as presented by professionals on a stage, in a gallery, or through a teaching artist in residence. A brief discussion on funding these experiences is included.

In addition to the foundational information in each section, FAQs are provided from archived questions from the field.

Access the guide at:

Over many years, the Arts Ed team has crafted the Arts Ed Administrator Guides, or “Look-For” documents, for principals and other administrators that are a K-12 Teacher Evaluation Support Tool for the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System (NCEES) Standards 1-5.

Each Arts Ed Administrator Guide starts with an overview of an arts education program, followed by information about the structure and goals of the Arts Education Essential Standards and Comprehensive Arts Education, and then a compilation of model practices, organized and aligned according to NCEES. The information also includes language familiar to the National Core Arts Standards to best reflect what artistic practices students and teachers are engaging in during the class period.

Access to, and equity of, arts education instruction has been mentioned as a priority by policy makers, national organizations, educators, business leaders, parents and teachers for more than two decades – dating back to the National Governors Association announcement of the 1989 “National Education Goals.” Policy makers in particular have been quick to talk about the importance of an arts education for every child. Yet, twenty five years after these conversations began, the original fundamental question remains unanswered.

It is our belief in order to expand access to arts education in our schools and communities we absolutely have to know where we stand. This is THE most elusive knowledge in our field and the most fundamental question that must be answered before arts education in this nation can move forward in any meaningful and strategic way.

If the many organizations concerned about arts education in this country truly believe in the ideal that every child should have access to arts education as part of a basic education (and we believe they do) then the entire arts education field must confront the reality that there is no way to attain this goal without determining where arts education stands today so clear strategies may be developed to address the undeniable gaps in access persistent in various parts of the United States. Simply put: to get to where we want to go we must understand where we are.

SEADAE and Quadrant Research launched the implementation of the Arts Education Data Project (AEDP) to answer the first part of this question of where we are regarding access to arts education in every public school building in the United States.

See North Carolina's Arts Ed Data

Link to National Project

The Arts Education Team at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has compiled all relevant information pertaining to courses in K-12 Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts into one Course Manual document to provide clarity around the unique proficiency-based Standard Course of Study in the Arts. Though broken down into discrete sections, the information contained in each section is often repeated and cross-referenced with information from an additional section; i.e. in order to properly understand the course coding structure, an understanding of proficiency levels and the suggested course progression is also necessary. 

The content is presented in four sections: 

(1) Course Codes - This section provides an explanation of the coding structure including the unique honors structure of Arts Education courses, Specialization Courses, and how proficiency levels are used. Additional NCDPI Course Coding resources include links to introductory course coding webinars.

(2) Arts Education Licensure - This section provides the NC School Board of Education Policy and testing information for teacher licenses in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre Arts and Visual Arts. Further information on in-field licensure can also be found.

(3) Suggested Course Progression - An in-depth look at how students enter and progress through Arts Ed courses is provided. Discussion of placement examinations, skipping levels, credit by demonstrated mastery (CDM) as well as recommendations for student profiles, concentrations in the arts, and example schedules are also provided. 

(4) Arts Education Graduation Requirement - An overview of the upcoming requirement along with a precursory timeline are provided.

In addition to the foundational information in each section, FAQs are provided from archived questions from the field.


NC Social Emotional Learning - Standards Mapping Documents

How do I use these documents?

At the beginning of these documents, developed in collaboration with A+ Schools of North Carolina, you will find a short narrative of how SEL and your content area already connect, and how integrating purposeful SEL support will strengthen your students’ grasp of the content. The document then provides Activities and Practices for use in your classroom. These activity suggestions have been tailored to integrating the instruction of a core competency within your content area. The instructional practices are ways that we as educators embed those core competencies in how we speak, teach, and run our classrooms. At the end of this document you will find a quick reference crosswalk between the CASEL Core Competencies and the NC Standard Course of Study. You will find that you can easily locate places in your curriculum where you can infuse your instruction with the core competencies, because they are already present in the standard course of study. However, by integrating these competencies intentionally into our content, we engage our students more deeply while educating the whole child.

Direct Links to Content Area SEL Documents

ELD Standards Resource Hub

Stakeholders have different areas of expertise and are often responsible for different aspects of educational planning and delivery; however, collectively, they are responsible for the success of Multilingual Learners. Each teacher can contribute to deliver coordinated educational experiences for Multilingual Learners according to their own qualifications and areas of expertise (WIDA 2020). To aid content area educators in supporting Multilingual Learners, please visit the NCDPI ESL/Title III Team’s ELD Standards Resource Hub.

Language Uses in Arts Education Documents

These documents, created in collaboration with the ESL/Title III team, focus on how the arts teacher will approach ELD support. The most prominent Key Language Uses and modes of communication are the basis for its language expectations and are marked with a filled in circle (). The half-filled circle and the open circle indicate lesse degrees of prominence of each Key Language Use. Watch THIS webinar to learn more. 

Documents for:

The NC Standard Course of Study calls for the teaching of North Carolina Arts, Artists, and the way the culture has been affected by the arts of our state. Created through a partnership with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Teaching North Carolina Arts Project is for NC teachers to teach about NC artistic styles, genres, and artists to satisfy the Culture, Connecting, and Cultural Relevancy standards, specifically about North Carolina in grades 4 and 8.

The Teaching North Carolina Arts Project connects teachers and students with information from other state agencies about NC Artists and included lesson resources from NC educators.

Arts Education is Core instruction (Tier 1) for all students in the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) for students. NCDPI highly encourages all Arts Education teachers to fully understand and utilize this state-wide framework. Learn more at the MTSS page from the NCDPI Integrated Academic and Behavior Systems (IABS) team. 

Additional Arts Education aligned MTSS resources are listed below: