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Assessment for Learning in Art

A boy with one finger in the air and an expression showing that he just thought of something.  He is wearing a metal hat with a lit light bulb on top. The text says, " Assessing the Thought Process".


Assessment for Learning in Art

I read a blog post by Melissa Purtee that asserts that we need assessment for learning in art, not just the finished work.  Or at least using a balanced approach that includes assessing both the learning and the work.
In this article, according to the National Standards, under the category of “Creating” the behaviors we should be evaluating are:
  • generating ideas
  • solving problems
  • making decisions
  • innovation
  • communicating ideas
  • developing art-making skills


How Do You Assess for Learning in Art?

It’s very hard for a teacher to evaluate a student on their thinking skills by just looking at a finished work of art.  Having students self-assess helps the teacher understand the student’s learning process.  Student self-assessment also helps the students to understand the art-making process and how important thinking skills are to the success of the finished product.
assessment for learning in art - sample rubric where students can write

Assessment for Learning in Art with Writing

Having students write about why they chose that particular level helps students to be more thoughtful and honest when choosing a level. Furthermore, the writing also helps the teacher understand what the art is about and assess what the student learned while making the art.  Here are some examples where students are asked to write about their art. The examples refer to the 


Rubric 1 – I Experimented with Ideas in My Sketchbook

In the first self-assessment pictured above, students will indicate their level of achievement by coloring in a smiley face that represents how well they “experimented with ideas in their sketchbook”.  Then they will explain why they choose that level.  
Prior to having students self-assess, the teacher could ask students to share why experimenting with ideas is important and what that would look like.  It might look different for each student.  To be at the “Love it” level, maybe the students need to experiment more than they ever have before, or maybe that means coming up with more than one great idea.

Rubric 1 – I Used Original Ideas

In the second half of the assessment students will assess how they did use original ideas, and then explain why they chose that level.  Students might tell how they came up with the idea, or how their idea was different from any examples used in the demonstration or presentation.

Rubric 2 – Explain a Problem You Solved

In the middle assessment students will “Explain a problem you solved” and answer the question, “What does your art communicate?” Both answers will be helpful to the teacher when trying to ascertain how much a student learned by doing the project.

Rubric 3 – I Created Meaningful Art 

In the last assessment students will indicate their level of achievement on “creating meaningful art” and “solving problems”.  Writing about how their work is meaningful and about problem-solving will help the teacher understand how much thought the student put into the work.

Criteria to Assess Learning

Here are some criteria that assess learning and are included in my Rubric Kit.  I like using a combination of images and text for criteria.  The images help students that struggle to read.
criteria that assesses thinking - assessment for learning


Criteria that Assesses Skills

While assessing learning is helpful in many ways, it’s also good to mix it up a bit.  Have a different mix of questions and criteria for each project throughout the year.  Building art skills is also important for a student’s fine motor development and enjoyment.  Students can feel proud of their progress learning drawing skills and mastering the use of different media.
criteria that assesses skills in art - assessment for learning
The criteria that assess skills in the graphic above are included in my Rubric Kit.  You will also get the images without the words so that you can write your own specific criteria for a particular lesson.

Criteria That Assesses Behavior

The art room is also an ideal place to practice good learning behavior.  Student behavior can impact not only a student’s learning but the climate of the class.  Other students to learn better in a well behaved class, which allows the teacher to attend to the needs of the entire class.
Criteria that assesses behavior - assessment for learning
The images in the graphic above are included in my Rubric Kit so that you can occasionally add some criteria about behavior to your rubrics.

Making an Assessment for Learning in Art

The Rubric Kit also contains 8 different styles of rubric boxes for a variety of assessment tools.  Some rubrics just have boxes for choosing levels of achievement.  One style has a place for students to write goals.  Others have room for students to write about their work or write about why they chose a particular level of achievement. Having students self-assess in writing will help you with your assessment of learning.
sample rubric boxes that  can be used to make a rubric assessment of learning


Assessment for learning in art can happen if you ask students the right questions on the rubric and if you give students a chance to write about how they did.
Whether you want to use my Rubric Kit or create your own assessments, I hope you found this information useful and thought-provoking.  I welcome your comments and suggestions about the information and what resources you would find helpful.


  • What kind of questions can you ask students to assess their thinking?
  • How can you get students to self-assess and write about what they learned by making an art project?

Want to Learn More?

You might be interested in reading:


Social & Emotional Learning in Art

Click on this image to get a free copy of this infographic.

Remind yourself and others of the social and emotional benefits of art. This is a great graphic to include in parent newsletters or display in your room.

You can read more about Social Emotional Learning in Art in this blog post.

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Stacey Peters

I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art. I'm a former elementary art teacher of 25 years turned business owner. Giving you the tools you need to bring more drawing into your classroom brings me joy.

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