February 9, 2006 President, The National Forum
Each school was selected by state leaders for its academic excellence, its responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and its commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. In addition, each school has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement. Dr. John Harrison, President of the National Forum stated, “These schools demonstrate that high-performing middle grades schools are places that focus on academic growth and achievement. They are also places that recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensuring that every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education.”
Selection was based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams who observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work. The schools vary in size from several hundred to several thousand students and represent urban, suburban, and rural communities.
Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a web site (http://www.schoolstowatch.org) that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program.
In 2002, the National Forum began working with states to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to introduce the Forum's criteria for high-performance and identify middle grades schools that meet or exceed that criteria. Different education organizations have taken the lead in each state, but all have received training and support from the Forum to implement their Schools to Watch programs. The lead state organizations are the California League of Middle Schools, the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education, the Georgia Middle School Association, the Kentucky Center for Middle School Academic Achievement, the North Carolina Middle School Association, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Virginia Middle School Association. All are planning in-state recognition ceremonies. Eleven states are currently involved in the program and the addition of these 27 schools raises the total number of Schools to Watch to 79 nationwide.
"We are pleased that our Schools to Watch programs have shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students," said Dr. Deborah Kasak, National Forum executive director. "These twenty-seven new Schools to Watch are indeed special; they make education so exciting that students and teachers don't want to miss a day. These schools have proven that it is possible to overcome barriers to achieving excellence, and any middle-level school in any state can truly learn from their examples," Kasak said.
The National Forum sponsors the Schools to Watch state program with the support of members, the National Association for Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Middle School Association, the National Staff Development Council, and the State Schools to Watch programs.
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations, dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.
National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform
New “Schools to Watch” Selections
Contact: Dr. Irv Howard, (909) 748-0479
R. H. Dana Middle School—Hawthorne, California
Gaspar De Portola Middle School—San Diego, California
Toby Johnson Middle School—Elk Grove. California
McKinleyville Middle School—McKinleyville, California
Contact: Diane Lauer, (970) 613-7398
Holmes Middle School—Colorado Spring, Colorado
Contact: Linda Hopping, 404-256-4005
Gladden Middle School—Chatsworth, Georgia
Rabun County Middle School—Tiger, Georgia
Webb Bridge Middle School—Alpharetta, Georgia
Contact: Fran Salyers, (859) 792-8404
James T. Alton Middle School—Vine Grove, Kentucky
Crosby Middle School—Louisville, Kentucky
South Oldham Middle School—Crestwood, Kentucky
Contact: Dr. John Harrison, (910) 235-3761
Alexander Graham Middle School—Charlotte, North Carolina
Mint Hill Middle School—Charlotte, North Carolina
Seventy-First Classical Middle School—Fayetteville, North Carolina
South Brunswick Middle School—Southport, North Carolina
Walter Johnson Middle School—Morganton, North Carolina
Contact: Lisa Duty, (614) 752-1667
Bexley Middle School—Bexley, Ohio
Bridgetown Middle School—Cincinnati, Ohio
Kilbourne Middle School—Worthington, Ohio
Monticello Middle School—Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Rapid Run Middle School—Cincinnati, Ohio
Spinning Hills Middle School—Dayton, Ohio
Van Wert Middle School—Van Wert, Ohio
Wantz Middle School—Miamisburg, Ohio
Frank L. Wiley Middle School—University Heights, Ohio
Contact: Sandy Dutemple, (703) 368-6465
Azalea Gardens Middle School—Norfolk, Virginia
Tabb Middle School—Yorktown, Virginia