An Examination of Admission and Assessment of Music Teacher Education Candidates in Higher Education


Jeffrey Ward, Kansas State University

Phillip D. Payne, Kansas State University


The present study is an examination of the practices of higher education music programs in the admission, promotion, and recommendation of licensure for music education candidates. Using a Qualtrics© online survey instrument, 95 respondents (15.9% response rate) from NASM member institutions of varying sizes, missions, and degree program offerings described admission procedures and minimum content knowledge and skill levels of qualified students enrolling in a music education degree program. Additionally, the respondents described other assessment practices of teacher candidates as they move to upper division courses and apply for teacher licensure.


69% of respondents agree or strongly agree that admission standards are influenced by the predicted success of candidates, thus faculty are putting confidence in their analysis of admission data as a predictor for success in the music curricula. However, the audition is the only ubiquitous admission task, rather than an assessment of teaching, interpersonal, intrapersonal, communication, or professional skills. Ward and Payne (in press) found that admission assessment data in music theory and aural skills were solely used for placement rather than diagnostic or predictive purposes. What is the purposes of collecting data regarding teacher disposition? Future research needs to examine data collected at admission, mid-point gateway, and licensure to see if there is a correlation to retention, graduation, and success in teaching.


As a student progresses from admission to a mid-point gateway, there is an increased emphasis on teaching and communication skills, but performance is still the primary assessment task to determine whether a student continues to upper level coursework. There is not a shift from an emphasis on performance to one of teaching until students are seeking licensure, the end point of the program of study. This emphasis can be somewhat attributed to the sequencing of coursework in music education curricula in which pedagogy is more emphasized in the last two years in many music education programs. If performance is so important at admission and at a gateway point, why does it become less important at the end point?


A number of questions emerged from the study:


How can the data collected at these three points be used to analyze growth, to provide feedback to students, and to determine appropriate fit for a student pursuing music education? Without appropriate predictors, music faculty are relying on anecdotal judgment in moving a student forward or holding them back.


Does portfolio, whether commercial, standardized or institutionally developed, align with state teaching standards? Should state teaching standards be a factor in admission and gateway assessments? Do standardized tests such as Praxis I and II align with state teaching standards?



National Association of Schools of Music. (2016). Handbook 2016-17. National Association of Schools of Music: Reston, Virginia.

Ward, J., & Payne, P. (in press). A survey of admission standards and procedures of higher education institutions in the United States in comparison to National Core Music Standards. In T. Brophy & M. Fautley (Eds.), Selected Papers from the 6th International Symposium on Assessment in Music Education. Chicago, IL, USA: GIA Publications, Inc.