NEWTON, MA | April 30, 2002
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform has selected three states to expand the reach and impact of its acclaimed “Schools to Watch” recognition program. The Forum will train teams of state leaders to implement Schools to Watch in California, Georgia, and North Carolina. The three states were chosen after a competitive selection process in which teams from each state demonstrated the capacity, commitment, and vision to partner with the Forum in the implementation of the program.
Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch was a national program that identified four middle-grades schools that were academically excellent, developmentally responsive, and socially equitable with organizational supports in place to sustain the schools’ success. Members of the National Forum selected the schools based on a written application, the level at which they implemented a number of demanding criteria, and data which Forum observers collected during site visits. Following their selection, the four schools were inundated with phone calls and flooded with visitors from members of the education community interested in using the selection criteria for their own staff development and school assessments. The National Forum developed the Schools to Watch web site that features online tours of the schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria.
The National Forum selected California, Georgia, and North Carolina to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to identify exemplary middle-level schools in each state. Different education organizations have taken the lead in each state, but all three states proved to the Forum review team that they have already garnered significant support for the program and are mobilizing a number of in-state resources. All three will receive technical training and support from the Forum to implement their Schools to Watch programs.
“Our Schools to Watch program has helped schools across the country to learn specific ways to promote academic excellence for all students, while responding to the unique developmental needs of young adolescents,” said Joan Lipsitz, Chair of the Forum’s Schools to Watch committee. “We’re eager to pilot the program at the state level so that a growing number of schools are in a position to teach others about excellent and equitable programs and practices uniquely suited to middle-level students,” Lipsitz said.
The National Forum is co-sponsoring the Schools to Watch State Program with the National Association for Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Middle School Association, and the National Staff Development Council.