Strategic Plan

Needs Assessment

During the past six years, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has taken major steps to align its fine arts standards with the National Standards in the Arts and the National Assessment for Educational Progress. In this process, the State Board of Education adopted the Fine Arts as part of Maryland's "Schools for Success" and developed Essential Learner Outcomes for the Fine Arts to be implemented across Maryland. Within the Code of Maryland regulations, policy was developed to indicate that "By the Year 2000, 100% of Maryland's students will participate in fine arts programs that enable them to meet the content and achievement standards established by State standards for the arts."

In April 1997 as a response to this statewide initiative, an organization entitled ArtsReach was formed with the goal of supporting arts education in Cecil County. The membership included representatives from the Cecil County Board of Education, Cecil County Arts Council, Cecil Community College, and education/arts constituencies. Goals set by the consortium members during the first year included the following:

  1. Creation of art liaisons within the community.
  2. Dance enrichment programs for the schools.
  3. Development of children's theatre resources.
  4. Collaboration with the college and the community.
  5. Identification and development of grant and scholarship opportunities.
  6. Lobbying for funding and support of arts education.
  7. Encouragement of public support of the arts.

In March 1998, a broad-based committee was developed to conduct a self-examination of the Cecil County Public Schools fine arts program. The committee consisted of teachers from each fine arts discipline, school-based administrators, and community ArtsReach consortium members. Their recommendations outlined a comprehensive program that addressed deficiencies in dance and theatre instruction. Their essential recommendations proposed to:

  1. Incorporate outside resources (ArtsReach) to assist in expanding the program.
  2. Provide staff development for all fine arts specialists and classroom teachers.
  3. Address thematic units at the elementary and middle school levels to include all of the arts.
  4. Utilize the Essential Learner Outcomes in the Fine Arts as the springboard of selected activities.
  5. Focus on students "learning by doing" in drama, dance, and other disciplines to better utilize a multiple-intelligence approach and support school improvement.

An analysis of drama and dance staff clearly demonstrates that specialists are needed in these areas:


Art Staff

Music Staff

Drama Staff

Dance Staff

Elementary11.317.62 part-time contractual2 part-time contractual
Middle6 10.72 part-time contractual2 part-time contractual
High14 8.71 (part-time)2 part-time contractual

On December 8, 1998, a three-person team of consultants and two observers from the Maryland State Department of Education's Fine Arts Advisory Panel conducted a site visit to Cecil County Public Schools. Their purpose was to pilot a fine arts program evaluation model. They identified six summative points within their review processes. Several of their recommendations in the areas of curricula, assessment models, staff development, and continued ArtsReach expansion have been addressed. On the other hand, their recommendations in the areas of additional staff in dance and theatre need to be addressed within this five-year plan.

Cecil County Public School's program improvement efforts for the past several years have embraced curriculum development, staff development, and a focus on student success in state standards. Fine arts strategies have mirrored these system indicators consistently. The chart below illustrates the relationship between some of the 2001-2002 system indicators and the fine arts strategies reflected in this strategic plan:

System Indicator

Fine Arts Strategy

The percentage of students participating in enrichment programs targeted to effectively address the learning needs of gifted and talented students will increase.Strategy 2: Incremental steps will be taken within the staffing plan to increase the number of fine arts staff, especially in the areas of theatre and dance.

Strategy 3: Staff development programs will be provided to fine arts specialists and classroom teachers that reflect Essential Learner Outcomes in the Fine Arts.
Differentiated instruction provided to all students will be sensitive to cultural diversity.Strategy 4: ArtsReach will continue to provide financial and logistical support to the "Instruments from the Attic" program thus providing students at risk an opportunity to comply with the Essential Learner Outcomes in the Fine Arts.
As a result of integrating technology learning outcomes in every curricular area, the percentage of students who can access and are competent in the use of technology to improve learning will increase.Strategy 7: Cecil County Public Schools will continue to expand technology resources in the arts for students and instructional staff.
The number of effective school/business/ community partnerships will increase.Strategy 5: ArtsReach will continue to expand its partnership within community and regional constituencies in order to provide essential opportunities and financial resources to support implementation of the Essential Learner Outcomes in the Fine Arts for students in grades K-12.
The percentage of students selecting and successfully completing courses or programs that are more academically challenging will increase. Strategy 1: Fine Arts specialists and classroom teachers will develop and implement assessments aligned with the Essential Learner Outcomes in the fine arts.

Strategy 2: Incremental steps will be taken within the staffing plan to increase the number of fine arts staff, especially in the areas of theatre and dance.