A+ Schools as a Change Agent

A+ Schools of North Carolina is research-based school reform. From the beginning, A+ Schools has been the subject of a comprehensive program evaluation to understand the efficacy and effectiveness of our education model. Additionally, the North Carolina Arts Council, in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction, collects data on participating schools each year to determine how individual A+ schools are doing over time, what specific professional development is needed, and if any broader program-wide course corrections should be considered. 


To better understand what happens to a school when it first adopts the A+ model, our research team analyzed a seven-year sample of data from more than 20 A+ schools. The data mining started two years before each school entered the program through the first three years of A+ training. Here is what we discovered:

Participation in A+ increases overall school performance. Following the initial three years of implementation, schools meet growth goals. The School Performance Score increased by a full letter grade for each of the schools that entered the network in 2013.

A+ students gain proficiency. The number of students achieving grade-level proficiency increases substantially as students experience A+ implementation. In the 2013-16 cohort, the number of students achieving grade-level proficiency increased by an average of 22-percent.

A+ levels the playing field. Students who are traditionally the most marginalized show the largest and quickest gains in student achievement following A+ implementation.

There is a positive cumulative effect on student growth and achievement with prolonged A+ engagement. The more years that a school actively engages with A+, the stronger the achievement of its students.  

Successful A+ schools report improved attendance, fewer disciplinary problems, stronger teacher satisfaction, and higher levels of community and parental involvement.