North Carolina Essential Standards for Arts Education

  • Curriculum in the arts is developed around the North Carolina Essential Standards for Arts Education.  K-12 standards are provided for dance, music, theatre arts, and visual arts. The standards are the learning goals of the curriculum, and the standards are the same for each grade level, serving as an anchor to the learning from kindergarten through the advanced levels.  The corresponding objectives change with each grade or proficiency level. At the K-8 levels, standards are organized by grade level. At the high school level, standards are organized by proficiency level.

    View the complete NC Essential Standards for Arts Education for grade-specific clarifying objectives. 

    Below is an overview of the standards for each discipline.

K-12 Dance Standards

  • Creation and Performance

    CP.1 Use choreographic principles, structures, and processes to create dances that communicate ideas, experiences, feelings, and images.

    CP.2 Understand how to use performance values (kinesthetic awareness, concentration, focus, and etiquette) to enhance dance performance.

    Dance Movement Skills

    DM.1 Understand how to use movement skills in dance.


    R.1 Use a variety of thinking skills to analyze and evaluate dance.


    C.1 Understand cultural, historical, and interdisciplinary connections with dance.

K-12 Music Standards

  • Musical Literacy

    ML.1 Apply the elements of music and musical techniques in order to sing and play music with accuracy and expression.

    ML.2 Interpret the sound and symbol systems of music.

    ML.3 Create music using a variety of sound and notational sources.

    Musical Response

    MR.1 Understand the interacting elements to respond to music and music performances.

    Contextual Relevancy

    CR.1 Understand global, interdisciplinary, and 21st century connections with music.  

K-12 Theatre Arts Standards

  • Communication

    C.1 Use movement, voice, and writing to communicate ideas and feelings.

    C.2 Use performance to communicate ideas and feelings.  


    A.1 Analyze literary texts and performances.


    AE.1 Understand how to design technical theatre components, such as costumes, sets, props, makeup, lighting, and sound.


    CU.1 Analyze theatre in terms of the social, historical, and cultural contexts in which it was created.

    CU.2 Understand the traditions, roles, and conventions of theatre as an art form.

K-12 Visual Art Standards

  • Visual Literacy

    V.1 Use the language of visual arts to communicate effectively.

    V.2 Apply creative and critical thinking skills to artistic expression.

    V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately.

    Contextual Relevancy

    CX.1 Understand the global, historical, societal, and cultural contexts of the visual arts.

    CX.2 Understand the interdisciplinary connections and life applications of the visual arts.

    Critical Response

    CR.1 Use critical analysis to generate