The A+ Schools Program is a whole-school reform model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know. In A+ Schools, teaching the state’s mandated curriculum involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach, with the arts continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning.
The central vision of A+ is to build enhanced, creative, arts-integrated learning opportunities for all students. For schools, A+ gradually becomes a comprehensive education reform because other changes in school practice, in areas from assessment to scheduling and collaboration to parent involvement, radiate out as necessary to achieve this central vision. Each A+ school develops a unique school identity around the arts that deepens and enhances each student’s educational experience and prepares them for the challenges of today’s creative and global economy.
On-going, high-quality A+ professional development and the development of strong community partnerships help each school to maintain their unique A+ identity while continuing to grow and change as shifts in the educational landscape take place.
Our evaluators have consistently found that A+ schools have been able to respond to accountability standards in both effective and creative ways, meeting standards in N.C.’s high-stakes testing program without narrowing the curriculum by deeply integrating the arts into instruction.
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The A+ Schools Program creates statewide (and regional) networks of A+ schools that choose to adopt and implement the A+ philosophy and practice, and that make a commitment to participating in network activities. The N.C. A+ Network consists of 46 A+ schools from across the state that represent the diversity of all schools in the state. Being part of this network is important because it provides a forum for shared experiences, resources and ideas and allows for dialogue across A+ communities.