NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - For the past year, THV 11 has been a supporter of A+ Arkansas, which is an initiative incorporating the arts into education.
Two North Little Rock schools signed on last fall, along with one school in Little Rock, and now that school is out for the summer, THV 11 wants know if it worked?
Our station visited Pike View Elementary in August 2012 when A+ was first introduced to the students. With a whole school year under their belts, principal Melanie Landrum said the program is making a difference in the classroom.
"A lot of joy, excitement, the disciplinary problems in the classrooms that were A+ trained were almost non-existent," reported Landrum.
Paul Leopoulos, founder of the THEA Foundation for the Arts, helped bring the program to Arkansas. He said the preliminary numbers are encouraging.
"Up front, we don't tell anybody that the first year is going to be something spectacular. Although, at Pike View, their reading levels--even off of just the first semester--just shot up in their K through Second grade."
At Pikeview Elementary Landrum says she witnessed a lot more excitement in the classroom.
"Used to you'd walk in and the children would be busy working. Now, when you walk in the children look at you and go, they immediately want to go grab something that they have created and come over and explain it to you."
Leopoulos said while he's encouraged by how well the first year went, but a complete transformation takes longer.
"To accomplish real school reform, it takes not just one training class one day in August. It takes three years to get the teachers totally bought and sold on it and implemented as part of just how they think everyday," Leopoulos said.
Landrum added that Pike View had a tremendous first year, but just like any first year, there are issues that go along with it.
"I think the biggest issue that we had this year was the fact that not all of our teachers received the training last year simply because they weren't hired when the training occurred," Landrum reflected. "In looking at just the raw data, the teachers that were trained had significant differences in test scores from those who were not."
Boone Park Elementary in North Little Rock and Rockefeller Elementary in Little Rock also implemented the A + program into their curriculum at the beginning of the school year.
Landrum said that since August, her teachers have seemed happier than ever before.
Teachers from all three schools will undergo a second summer training session this month.
For information on the A+ program's progress, visit this page: http://on.kthv.com/13eSktk