Facebook script

Using Pre & Post Tests to Measure Student Growth in Art: Part 1

As art teachers, often we feel like square pegs forced into round holes. That is how I felt when I was required to show and use data in my teaching last year. Since then, I have turned what felt like an uncomfortable fit into a second-nature strategy in my classroom. You can too by starting with these stress-free steps…

You CAN Have a Data-Driven Art Room!

Start Small

Choose one class or one grade level, one lesson, and two or three easily assessable objectives. For example, I began with a landscape lesson in two fourth grade classes. I wanted students to understand and apply perspective and proportion.



Make a Simple Pre-Test

I had students use pencil on the back of the paper we would be painting on. I asked them to define landscape, perspective, and proportion. Then I had them draw a little landscape using perspective and proportion to create depth.


Collect and Chart Data

With so many students, this has to be quick and easy. Print off a class roster and add a column for each objective. Give a check in the column of each concept they’ve already mastered. Since this is a pre-test, the check marks will be few. Calculate the percentage of students who’ve mastered each concept.

Set a Realistic Goal and Tailor your Instruction

Only about 20% of my students created or defined landscape correctly on the pretest I gave. I wanted 80% of my students to be able to demonstrate their understanding. No one had any clue about perspective and proportion, so I knew that I really had to concentrate my instruction on those concepts.

In Part Two of The Data Driven Art Room, I’ll guide you through creating your post-assessment, and start a conversation about where we go from here.

Are there times you’ve struggled making something fit into your classroom or teaching?

Do you current use data from a Pre-Test to drive your instruction?

 What kinds of assessments are you giving already?

Sarah Dougherty


My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.