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Barling Elementary Named Arkansas A+ School

Barling staff show students the school's new Arkansas A+ banner Barling Elementary School received Arkansas A+ designation Tuesday, April 10.

With the designation, Barling Elementary students will have even more access to the arts, said Principal Carl Hill.

“We should be able to invite musicians and composers to come train our students. We should be able to afford to take our students to more plays and museums (Crystal Bridges). Students should be more engaged in every lesson,” Hill said. “We also should be able to invite artist-in-residence to come train our students.”

Arkansas A+ Schools is a research-based whole-school network with a mission of nurturing creativity in every learner through an arts-integrated network.

A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering students opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and demonstrating knowledge.

As an Arkansas A+ school, Barling staff will receive seven days of training over the summer and next school year, showing how to implement the arts into everyday lessons, Hill said. The following year, they have five days of training, and the third year, they will receive three days of training.

To designate as an Arkansas A+ school, Barling had to submit an application and have at least 85 percent of its staff commit to the process. Barling had a 96 percent commitment through a secret vote, said Hill.

"This 85 percent commitment is to learn about and implement with fidelity all of the Eight Essentials: Arts Integration; Curriculum; Infrastructure; Enriched Assessment; Climate; Multiple Learning Pathways; Experiential Learning and Collaboration. After that, it is a commitment to attend training in the summer for three years with two on site professional development offerings that are determined by our school's self assessment, which we will do twice per year," Hill said.

According to the Arkansas A+ website, research shows that students in Arkansas A+ schools have higher achievement, better attendance and decreased discipline problems. Research also shows Arkansas A+ schools have “stronger parent and community involvement and a more creative and joyful school climate,” the website states.

There are currently 24 member schools in the network, with about 5-10 schools added annually, the website states.