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Course Guides and Frameworks

The course guide and framework is the core document for each course. Each includes the complete course framework, which defines what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course and serves as an anchor for model lessons and assessments as well as teacher planning. Each course guide also provides a description of the Pre-AP approach to teaching and learning, assessment blueprints and examples, and requirements for Pre-AP course designation.


Pre-AP offers four yearlong courses in the Arts: Pre-AP Dance, Pre-AP Music, Pre-AP Theatre, and Pre-AP Visual Arts. 

These four distinct courses share one set of themes, underlying unit foundations, and areas of focus. The frameworks, model lessons, and performance assessments are specific to each course, and are designed to be incorporated into a range of schools’ existing performance-focused arts courses in each of these disciplines.

The framework is structured around skills associated with ideation, experimentation, creation, revision, reflection, and analysis—the processes and activities that artists engage in while producing their work. 

How to Use the Resources in Specific Courses

Each Pre-AP Arts course includes three discipline-specific instructional modules. These modules address the specific knowledge and skills needed for dance, music, theatre, and visual art courses while sharing themes of artistic investigation related to structures, sources, and iteration. They give focus, shape, and coherence to the skills and practices that are most important for students to develop, and support students across levels of proficiency from emerging to advanced. 

Pre-AP model lessons are adaptable to a range of arts courses within each discipline and level; for example, in music, the units can be used with a range of performance ensemble types.

Areas of Focus

The Pre-AP Arts areas of focus are practices that students develop and leverage as they engage with content. These areas of focus are vertically aligned to the practices embedded in other Arts courses in high school, including AP, and in college, giving students multiple opportunities to strengthen and deepen their work with these skills throughout their education.

Pre-AP Arts Areas of Focus:

  • Analysis and interpretation: Students observe, investigate, and discuss a limited number of anchor works, which are works of art central to the themes and content of a particular module, and relate these examples to their own creative work.
  • Peer-to-peer dialogue: Students engage in structured conversations with peers to share ideas, respond to and offer advice on works in progress, critique final works, and discuss next steps.
  • Experimentation: Students generate and consider a range of options for both the technical and expressive content of their work and make purposeful decisions about which options to incorporate in the work.
  • Reflective writing: Students communicate and clarify ideas in writing throughout the creative process: as a component of research and idea generation, in describing works in progress, and in reflecting on final works.

Underlying Unit Foundations

The Pre-AP Arts framework is unified by these big ideas that connect all four arts disciplines at all levels of performance. These big ideas are integrated throughout all modules of each course:

  • Observe and interpret
  • Practice and experiment 
  • Research and make
  • Reflect and evaluate 
  • Revise and share

Instructional Resources

Schools that officially implement a Pre-AP course will receive access to instructional resources. These resources don’t constitute a full day-by-day curriculum. Instead, they provide support for teachers as they design instruction and adapt the resources for their existing arts courses and performance schedules.

Each Pre-AP Arts course includes the following resources:

  • 3 discipline-specific instructional modules per arts course on the themes of structures, sources and iteration.
  • Each module includes approximately 5 weeks of model lessons that provide support and scaffolding for implementing the course framework and considering the anchor works related to the topic of investigation.
  • Additional support resources include Distance Learning Companion Slides and audio recordings of student texts that accompany the teacher and student instructional materials for use in synchronous and asynchronous settings.

Additional Resources

Pre-AP Theatre: Module 1 requires student access to the drama West Side Story.

Pre-AP Music: In addition to musical instruments, Pre-AP Module 1 requires student access to sheet music for the following anchor works. The Pre-AP Music course may be used with a variety of ensemble types, so the specific work needed for students varies based on the ensemble type.
Concert band or orchestra: “Superman Suite” by John Williams/arr. Bob Lowden
Orchestra: “Pastorale” from Christmas Concerto by Arcangelo Corelli
Chorus: “Pie Jesu” from Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Webber or “The Battle of Jericho” traditional, arr. by Moses Hogan

Assessments for Learning

Pre-AP Arts assessments are designed to address the range of abilities represented in the framework, encompassing technical skill development, but also the purposeful refinement and revision of creative work, as well as a student’s ability to reflect on and communicate about that work.

Whereas other Pre-AP courses include digital assessments and stand-alone performance tasks, assessments in the Pre-AP Arts courses are entirely performance based and rubric scored. Assessment is fully embedded in instructional practice and arises from the authentic work that students engage in throughout a module of study. Students are not given separate creative tasks for the purpose of assessment; the work that is assessed is the work that they have made throughout the module.