Of the initial cohort of twenty-five schools that became A+ in the summer of 1995, twelve are still A+ Schools. Years of evaluation and research point to three key factors for this longevity.
While principal turnover often leads to demise of a whole-school reform, that has not been the case with A+. Evaluators observe that new principals see students enjoying learning, teachers enjoying teaching, and parents pleased by both. They also see changes in school climate as well as in student achievements. The arts have also made their schools distinctive and ‘marketable’ as open enrollment has become more common across North Carolina.
Noblit, George W. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Arts-Based School Reform: The A+ Schools Program. Routledge, page 161.
Based on eight years of research conducted in North Carolina schools, George W. Noblit wrote a book titled Creating and Sustaining Arts-Based School Reform: The A+ Schools Program (Routledge, 2009). The book examines the relationship between arts-based school reform and improved cultural and academic outcomes of schools, identifying A+ Schools to be a sustainable option for school reform.
According to the publisher, the landmark study is “a comprehensive, longitudinal analysis of arts in education initiatives that discusses the political, fiscal and curricular implications inherent in taking the arts seriously.” It offers a model that can be adapted in other schools and districts. It presents the arts as a way of revitalizing and energizing schools.