New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA)

OVERVIEW

In December, 2007, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) Board unanimously agreed that NOCCA should create a 3-5 year R&D plan to develop what had been called Arts Expanded. Collective Invention assisted in the development of the plan. In summary, this plan describes a path from an exceptionally successful, partial—day model for professional arts training to a full high school curriculum that broadens NOCCA’s already rich academic program in such a way that NOCCA’s extraordinary DNA enriches the teaching of core academic subjects such as math and science. It also details the challenges and opportunities inherent in a program that seeks to maintain the cognitive, socioeconomic, ethnic and artistic diversity of its student body, continuing the tradition of a high artistic bar for entry even while committing to meet each student where he or she currently performs academically.

CHALLENGE

The NOCCA graduates of the future will be well-prepared to take up, or even invent, the leading edge careers of their generation. They will be conversant with digital tools and media, and will be able to use these tools in whatever ways they choose. They will be able to confidently partner with people from different backgrounds and disciplines, bridge arts and sciences, classical arts training and arts mediated by technology. They will be problem-solvers, entrepreneurs, and active partners within their communities, because they will have had successful experiences of being all of these things during their time at NOCCA.

APPROACH

As part of the discovery phase of our work with NOCCA, Collective Invention undertook field research within the organization in order to understand “The Creative DNA of NOCCA” – those elements and dynamics that operate within NOCCA to keep students focused upon their art practice, develop them as potential performing artists, and cultivate relationships between students and faculty such that faculty are regarded as credible mentors and guides. The intention behind the work was to understand how best to help NOCCA capitalize upon, and protect, its strengths through any future expansion.

OUTCOMES

Our plan began with a vision for the future NOCCA, an outline of some guiding principles derived from significant internal and external research, and a set of recommendations for building the new institution one step at a time which included: new curricula, professional development for faculty and staff, and an entrepreneurial, residential campus that draws students from every part of Louisiana.

At the end of the Academic Studio’s second year in May 2013:

• Every student averaged double-digit growth in every subject in pre- ACT Explore and Plan tests taken between August and March;

• 83% of 10th grade students have met ACT college readiness benchmarks;

• 99% of students passed the End of Course tests;

• 89% of students passed EOC tests at the two highest levels;

• and students who had entered the Academic Studio program with skill sets as low as fourth grade level in reading, writing and math had caught up to grade level.

The Academic Studio received a grade of “A” from the Louisiana Department of Education in October 2013.

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