Is six-peat a thing? Irvine Unified again ranks among the ‘Best Communities for Music Education’

The NAMM Foundation has named the Irvine Unified School District among its Best Communities for Music Education for the sixth straight year.

Students playing string instruments
Students hone their cello skills in the Irvine Unified School District, which has made the NAMM Foundation’s list of the Best Communities for Music Education six years in a row.

The awards program, now in its 19th year, annually recognizes districts and schools that have made a strong commitment to high-quality music education and prioritized student access.

Irvine is one of 583 districts throughout the U.S. to earn the designation in 2018 — and it’s the only one in Orange County.

“This honor is representative of the district’s commitment to the arts,” says IUSD Fine Arts Coordinator Brad Van Patten. “Despite being one of the lowest funded school districts in the nation, fine arts have flourished in IUSD schools under the Board of Education’s visionary leadership.”

Van Patten also credited the Irvine Company and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation for supporting Irvine’s visual and performing arts programs, which benefit thousands of students each year.

The NAMM Foundation also announced that 135 individual schools had earned its SupportMusic Merit Award for their commitment to music education, including a handful from Orange County.

Guinn, Marshall, Loara, Henry, Revere, Roosevelt and Stoddard elementary schools in the Anaheim Elementary School District all made the list, as did Carr Intermediate in Santa Ana, Parks Junior High in Fullerton and Orange Unified’s Villa Park High School.

To qualify for the Best Communities honor, Irvine and other districts were required to answer detailed questions about their funding, graduation requirements, class participation, instruction time, facilities and programmatic support, along with community opportunities.

Best Communities for Music Education logo

Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas, which, we should note, knows a thing or two about the link between music programs and academic success.

In 2014, University of Kansas researchers determined that students who participate in school music programs outperformed their peers in a number of areas, including grade-point average, graduation rate, ACT scores, attendance and discipline referrals.

To learn more about the Best Communities for Music Education program or the NAMM Foundation, visit