A new report published by the National Center on Time and Learning features Denver’s Cole Arts and Science Academy in one of five case studies examining expanded-time schools with arts-based curriculums.

The report, titled “Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day,” describes Cole’s transformation from a dismally-performing middle school that was taken over by the state in 2004 to a popular innovation school that has gradually improved its academic standing. The school, which has gradually transitioned from a K-8 to a K-5, has a school day about an hour longer than a typical Denver elementary school.

In the report, Cole administrator Stephanie Chevira describes the level of rigor that has been set up for arts instruction in a third-grade class at the school:

I remember that the teacher resident showed a book of  Picasso’s art to demonstrate to students how to visualize details so that they could put them down in writing. After that, the kids rattled off another four or five major artists—like Rembrandt and Monet—and the ways in which they painted. One student said, for example, that Monet painted “like pillows.” We couldn’t believe our ears. The whole scene showed us just how much the students are learning in art class and that even children as young as third graders are expected to learn way more than just drawing pictures.

The other schools featured in the report include Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School and Clarence Edwards Middle School in Massachusetts, Metropolitan Arts and Technology Charter High School in San Francisco, and Roger Williams Middle School in Rhode Island.

The report notes that educators at all five schools consider the arts a core feature of their programs and dedicate at least an hour a day to arts instruction. The schools’ longer school days, which range from 7 to 8.6 hours, also enable staff to reconcile the tension between strong academics and rich arts programming.

The report states, “The expanded time schools in this study are able to realize a truly well-rounded and enriched education.”