According to the most recent A+ Program evaluation, “There is much that the arts can teach us about school reform, and the A+ Schools Program provides a powerful example on which to base these lessons.”
The evaluators stated that A+ is a successful comprehensive education reform because it begins with a vision of arts-integrated instruction creating enhanced learning opportunities for all students, and that “other changes in school practice, in areas ranging from assessment to scheduling to parent involvement, radiate out as necessary to achieve that central vision.”
The report goes on to say that the A+ approach to school reform used lessons from the arts and focused on the process (learning) not the product (test scores), thus the product emerged as both student achievement and sustainable school reform that supports learning for all students. The arts were key to the sustained changes in teaching approach and in the organizational structure of the schools.
In A+ Schools, arts education is approached in three ways:
- through arts integration – bringing together arts and non-arts objectives to create hands-on, experiential, connected and meaningful learning experiences
- through pure arts education – developing understanding and comfort in the elements, principles, history, processes and works of each art form
- through arts exposure – creating opportunities for students and staff to experience artistic works and performances in both their school and their community
For more information on the value of an education through the arts, check out these resources.
Arts Education Partnership: The Arts Education Partnership provides information and communication about current and emerging arts education policies, issues, and activities at the national, state, and local levels.
New Horizons for Learning: In their “teaching and learning strategies” section, you will find a wealth of topics of interest. In particular, the topic on Arts in Education is full of articles, research and information on the value of arts education.
Americans for the Arts: This national, nonprofit organization is dedicated to advancing the arts in America.
Since 2002, Oklahoma’s A+ Schools state-wide network has seen significant achievement. Following a four year partnership of training and support with the North Carolina A+ Schools Program, Oklahoma A+ schools have outperformed their districts and state averages on standardized tests.
“Oklahoma’s A+ School network nurtures creativity in every student – and a recent evaluation shows not just that the program increases student achievement but boosts attendance and decreases discipline problems as well.” — Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education.
To obtain copies of the OK A+ Schools evaluations, please visit www.okaplus.org.