Becoming an A+ School

So, you are interested in becoming an A+ school or know a school that is interested?  Below you will be able to read through the process for schools who are exploring the option of entering the A+ Schools Network.

A+ Schools of North Carolina is the nation’s longest-running, most successful arts-based whole school transformation model.  Newly released research on A+ demonstrates impressive results in school growth, student proficiency and narrowing the achievement gap. And A+ helps schools to build creative, engaging learning environments that allow students to master the state standards while developing their 21st century skills.

Steps to Becoming an A+ School With Network Entry Summer 2020

To help schools begin the exploration process and learn more about what it means to be an A+ school, A+ Schools of North Carolina will host two regional information sessions for schools interested in joining the A+ Network.  These meetings will take place as follows:

  • Thursday, March 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Cabarrus Arts Council, 65 Union Street South, Concord, NC
  • Wednesday, March 27, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the N.C. Arts Council, 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC (3rd Floor Conference Room)

These free regional meetings will offer information to school and district representatives about A+ Schools of North Carolina and the process for becoming part of this highly successful, nationally recognized network of creative schools. To RSVP to attend one of the meetings or for more information, please contact A+ Schools Program Director Michelle Burrows at (919) 814-6503 or by email at

Schools who are interested in pursuing the process of becoming an A+ school will follow up with these steps:

Step 1: Letter of Intent
Interested school principals submit a Letter of Intent Form by June 14, 2019. This form lets us know that your school is interested in becoming an A+ school and plans to take the necessary steps to find out more about A+.

Step 2: A+ Summer Conference Observation
Interested schools who have submitted a letter of intent for 2020-2021 A+ entry may send a small team to observe a day or two of our summer conferences – no more than four attendees, please. This group should include the school principal and perhaps a district representative, along with key leaders/teachers at the school who would be responsible for sharing information with your whole staff. We are unable to provide travel expenses for schools to observe these conferences. RSVPs are required in order to visit an A+ summer conference. Please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Huggins at or (919) 814-6520 to reserve a spot for your team. A+ summer conference visitation dates and locations are as follows:

  • July 15-19, 2019, in Raleigh, NC
Folk Dancing with Booker T Washington Staff


Step 3: Pre-application Meeting
Interested schools will send a team to a pre-application meeting on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, in Raleigh. This meeting will provide more information on what it means to be an A+ school, look deeper into A+ processes, and allow time for Q&A with A+ staff and A+ Fellows. School teams should include the principal, a district representative and teacher leaders from each interested school. Schools that have submitted a Letter of Intent Form will receive an invitation and registration form for this event by email in September.

Step 4: Sharing Information and Gaining Staff Commitment
Teams from the interested schools who have attended the summer conference and pre-application meeting will share what they have learned with the rest of their staff, along with the dates of the A+ 5-day Summer Institute that your school would be required to attend in 2019. Each school then surveys their staff and secures a minimum of 85% faculty commitment that A+ is the right fit for the school and that they want to join the A+ Schools Network.

Step 5: A+ Application
Once the 85% commitment has been obtained, interested schools may submit an application to become an A+ school. Applications are due no later than Friday, December 6, 2019, at 5 p.m. and require several letters of support and signatures. Schools will be notified of acceptance on December 16, 2019.

Download the A+ Implementation Timeline

Download Letter of Intent Form

Download the A+ Application

Step 6: Getting Ready
Spring 2020 will allow time for each school to prepare for their first A+ professional development with opportunities for school leadership to attend our A+ Regional Leadership Meetings and to attend pre-arranged visits to several A+ schools.

Step 7: The Summer Institute
New schools will attend five days of A+ training in Raleigh during the summer of 2020. The tentative dates for the 2020 A+ Summer Institute are July 13-17, 2020, in Raleigh. A minimum of 85% of each school’s certified staff plus the administrative team is required to attend. All staff, district representatives, parent leaders and other school stakeholders are also invited to attend. Details and registration for the 2020 Summer Institute will be available during the spring of 2020.

Selection: Applications are reviewed by a selection committee made up of individuals representing the A+ Schools of North Carolina. The A+ Selection Committee will review all completed applications and select schools to join the network based upon leadership, passion for the project, evidence of collaboration, evidence of commitment, sense of community, opportunity for the school, geographic location and representation of the N.C. population.

The number of schools accepted is determined by the quality of applications and the resources of A+ Schools to effectively meet the needs of schools added to the network.

A+ staff will notify selected schools with a formal invitation to join the A+ Network on December 16, 2019.

Year One: Attend your initial five-day Summer Institute and participate in whole-school professional development which puts the A+ philosophy into an experiential and shared context for the school. During the school year, you will receive two days of on-site follow-up and site visits from A+ staff. Principals and A+ Coordinators will attend fall and spring statewide and regional A+ Leadership Meetings and ongoing A+ webinars.

Year Two and Three: Attend the three-day summer conference designed specifically and uniquely for each second and third year school. Continue to implement, assess, reflect and grow in the development of A+ philosophy and practice. Receive two days of on-site professional development during the second and third school year as well as site visits from A+ staff. Attend fall and spring state-wide and regional A+ Leadership Meetings and ongoing A+ webinars.

Year Three and Beyond: Schedule and receive summer and mid-year professional development designed specifically for each school in order to continue to support the implementation of the A+ Essentials and philosophy (as requested). Attend fall and spring state-wide and regional A+ Leadership Meetings and ongoing A+ webinars. Host site visits from A+ staff and other visitors.

What Does it Cost to Become A+? It costs approximately $64,000 for the initial three-year commitment to become an A+ school. Approximately $26,500 covers the first year with approximately $19,500 for the second and $18,000 for the third year. Schools have found many creative ways to secure funding to become an A+ school. The N.C. Arts Council is working diligently to determine ways to offer financial subsidies to support new and network schools. We would be happy to discuss the funding possibilities available.

If you have questions or need additional infomation about becoming an A+ school, please contact us at or by phone at (919) 814-6503.