DEAL is a big deal to the dancers in Frisco ISD.
The Dance Educators Assessment of Learning, or DEAL, gives Dance I students in Frisco ISD the ability to strut their stuff and be judged on how well they have learned basic techniques and vocabulary of dance. They demonstrate skills they have learned such as arm and feet positions and dance techniques.
Much like sight reading in music, DEAL looks at both the dancers and the teacher’s ability to quickly learn and execute a newly-choreographed dance routine, according to FISD Fine Arts Director Richard Oldham.
DEAL offers the competitive edge combined with educational rigor experienced in UIL competition by other fine arts students.
DEAL is sponsored through the Texas Dance Educators Association. The association states that information gained through participation in DEAL will help educators design best practices to implement within their dance programs to enhance student learning and progress in the art of dance.
Frisco ISD hosted DEAL for two days in February. Cami Cole, dance instructor at Heritage High School and lead dance teacher for the District, reports that seven out of nine dance programs judged received a Division I rating.
“That is really excellent,” she said. “Especially when you realize it is our first time having this assessment in our district! All of the dance instructors did an amazing job preparing their class for this event.”
The fact that seven of Frisco’s nine high school dance programs received Division I ratings will help all the teachers continue to improve their instruction and develop their programs in the coming year, Oldham said.
“Dance, while having a fully-developed curriculum and mission through the Texas Education Agency, does not have a UIL competition format,” he said. “DEAL allows our students an opportunity to be assessed by professionals from outside of our schools.”
The Texas Dance Educators Association sponsors DEAL and provides a choreographer and three adjudicators. The assessment consists of four parts:
Students and teacher learn level appropriate technique-based choreography from the DEAL instructing choreographer.
The teacher works with their students to memorize and perform to their best ability.
Students present the practiced combination to the adjudicators without their teacher.
Students and teachers receive written/oral adjudicator feedback on all sections immediately following the DEAL assessment.
The assessment is a positive experience for teachers and students. The fact that the feedback is immediate means that the dancers walk away from the dance assessment with the necessary information to improve their technique, Cole said.
The adjudicators watch the dancers and the instructors from start to finish. It is a great way to gain teaching tips and constructive observations from other dance professionals.
Currently DEAL is only open for Dance I. Frisco ISD offers Dance I, II, III and IV. Dance instructors are hoping that DEAL expands to the high level of dance classes in the future.