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posted: 5/22/2014 5:51 PM

Kaneland Harter School among exceptional "Schools to Watch"

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Dr. Jeff Schuler
Kaneland Unit District 302

Champaign-Urbana, IL -- One hundred and sixteen exemplary middle-grades schools in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia have been named "Schools to Watch" as part of a recognition and improvement program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Having established partnerships with education leaders in these states, the Forum today announced the names of schools in each state that meet its strict criteria. [list of schools below]

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.

Linda Hopping, chairwoman of the National Forum's Schools to Watch Oversight Committee stated, "These schools demonstrate that high-performing middle grades schools have a clear focus on academic growth and achievement. They also recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensuring that each and every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education. We are proud to have these schools serve as models from which others can learn."

Selection is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the Forum. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state 2 teams who observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work. Schools are recognized for a three-year period; and at the end of three years, schools must repeat the process in order to be redesignated. Seventy-seven schools of the 116 recognized have maintained or increased their levels of excellence and are being redesignated. The schools vary in size from several hundred to several thousand students and represent urban, suburban, and rural communities.

"We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students," said Dr. Deborah Kasak, Forum executive director. "These 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 proved that it is possible to overcome barriers to achieving excellence, and any middle-grades school in any state can truly learn from their examples," Kasak said.

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 Forum.

The Forum website ( features detailed information about the selection criteria. The STW process provided the framework for the successful Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grant received in October 2010 from the U. S. Department of Education. The National Forum's "The Schools to Watch: School Transformation Network" concentrates on assisting 18 persistently low performing middle grades schools in California, Illinois and North Carolina. In 2013, the Forum further extended its STW framework when it was awarded a second i3 Development Grant: Middle-Grades Leadership Development. This grant will work with 12 schools in Michigan and Kentucky.

In 2002, the 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 Arkansas Association of Middle Level Education, the California League of Middle Schools, the Colorado Association of Middle Level 3 Education, the Georgia Middle School Association, the Association of Illinois Middle-Level Schools, the Indiana Middle Level Education Association, the Kentucky Middle School Association, the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, the New Jersey Association for Middle Level Education, New Jersey Education Association, the New York State Middle School Association & New York State Department of Education, the North Carolina Middle School Association, the Ohio Department of Education, the Oregon Middle Level Association, the Pennsylvania Middle School Association, the South Carolina Middle School Association, the Texas Middle School Association, the Utah Middle Level Association and the Virginia Middle School Association. All together, nineteen states are currently involved in the program and the addition of these schools raises the total number of Schools to Watch to 367 nationwide.

The National Forum sponsors the Schools to Watch state program with the support of its members and the State Schools to Watch programs. Schools will convene at the Schools to Watch Conference in the Washington, D.C. area June 26-28, 2014.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of 40 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

National Forum Schools to Watch Contact: Deborah Kasak, Executive Director, 217.351.2196

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform New & Re-Designated "Schools to Watch"


STATE DIRECTORS: Mona Briggs (501) 658-1811

Charles Green (501) 851-4857

Redesignation II

Cabot Middle School North, Cabot

Helen Tyson Middle School, Springdale



STATE DIRECTOR: Irvin Howard (951) 318-7515

Carole Carlson (408) 867-6623


Alondra Middle School, Paramount

Carmenita Middle School, Cerritos

Colton Middle School, Colton

Heber Elementary, Heber

LaCanada High School 7/8, LaCanada Flintridge

Landmark Middle School, Moreno Valley

Leona Jackson Middle School, Paramount

Pinkerton Middle School, Elk Grove

Serrano Middle School, Montclair

Tetzlaff Accelerated Learning Academy, Cerritos

Turlock Junior High School, Turlock

Redesignation I

Calavera Hills Middle School, Calsbad

Carnegie Middle School, Sacramento

La Paz Middle School, Mission Viejo

Vista Verde Middle School, Moreno Valley

Washington Academic, Sanger

Redesignation II

Alta Sierra Intermediate, Clovis

Kastner Intermediate, Clovis

Redesignation III

Alvarado Intermediate, Rowland Heights

Bernice Ayer Middle School, San Clemente

Kennedy Middle School, El Centro

Millikan Middle School, Sherman Oaks

Rancho Milpitas Middle School, Milpitas


STATE DIRECTOR: Diane Lauer (970) 222-6422


Lesher Middle School, Fort Collins

Redesignation I

Jenkins Middle School, Colorado Springs

Powell Middle School, Littleton

Redesignation II

Russell Middle School, Colorado Springs


STATE DIRECTOR: Linda Hopping (404) 317-3679

Redesignation I

East Jackson Middle School, Commerce

Waycross Middle School, Waycross

Redesignation III


Chapel Hill Middle School, Chapel Hill

Upson-Lee Middle School, Thomaston


STATE DIRECTORS: John Viano (630) 437-0943

Gary Weilbacher


Clifford Crone Middle School, Naperville

Kaneland Harter Middle School, Sugar Grove

Nathan Davis School, Chicago

Redesignation II

Gordon Gregory Middle School, Naperville

Indian Creek Middle School, Waterman


STATE DIRECTOR: Shirley Wright (317) 894-2937


Shelbyville Middle School, Shelbyville

Redesignation I

Eastwood Middle School, Indianapolis

Triton Central Middle School, Fairland

Tri-West Middle School, Lizton

Westlane Middle School, Indianapolis


STATE DIRECTORS: Karen Hamilton (850) 248-1629

Fran Salyers (859) 608-2368

Redesignation I

Mt. Washington Middle School, Mt. Washington

Redesignation II

Benton Middle School, Benton

Re-Designation III

Olmstead School, Olmstead



Sherry Lambertson (989) 529-4397


Cheboygan Middle School, Cheboygan

Whitehall Middle School, Whitehall

Redesignation I

Oakview Middle School, Lake Orion



STATE DIRECTOR: Gail Hillard-Nelson (908) 737-3866

Frank Corrado (973) 477-6070


Carl H. Kumpf Middle School, Clark

Leonia Middle School, Leonia

Redesignation I

Belhaven Middle School, Linwood

Black River Middle School, Chester

Redesignation II

Mountain View Middle School, Mendham Borough


STATE DIRECTORS: David Payton (518) 356-3299

Marybeth Casey (518) 474-0059

Redesignation I

Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, Port Washington

Garden City Middle School, Garden City

Redesignation II

Pioneer Middle School, Yorkshire


STATE DIRECTOR: Cathy Tomon (252) 247-3135


C.W. Standford Middle School, Hillsborough

Mount Airy Middle School, Mount Airy

Redesignation I

McGee's Crossroads, Benson

Piedmont Middle School, Charlotte

Redesignation II

Kernodle Middle School, Greensboro

Rogers-Herr Middle School, Durham

West Pine Middle School, West End

Redesignation III

Carmel Middle School, Charlotte

Easy Yancey Middle School, Burnsville

Jay M. Robinson Middle School, Charlotte


STATE DIRECTOR: Dan Stacy (614) 644-6325

Redesignation II

Teays Valley West Middle School, Commercial Point

Wadsworth Central Intermediate, Wadsworth

Redesignation III


Beachwood Middle School, Beachwood

St. HenryMiddle School, St. Henry

Van Wert Middle School, Van Wert


STATE DIRECTORS: Bruce Vosburgh (610) 945-4434


ET Richardson Middle School, Springfield

Kane Area Middle School, Kane

Northley Middle School, Aston

Schuylkill Valley Middle School, Leesport

Redesignation I

Canonsburg Middle School, Canonsburg

Seneca Valley Middle School, Harmony

Redesignation II

Boyce Middle School, Upper St. Clair

Fort Couch Middle School, Upper St. Clair


STATE DIRECTORS: Linda Allen (843) 839-5025

Tina Jamison


Campobello Gramling School, Campobello

Redesignation I

Castle Heights Middle School, Rock Hill

T.E. Mabry Middle School, Inman

Redesignation II

Blythewood Middle School, Blythewood

Palmetto Middle School, Williamston


STATE DIRECTORS: Cecil Floyd (512) 517-0517

Melissa Seward


Bailey Middle School, Spring

Beckendorff Junior High, Katy

Beverly Hills Intermediate School, Pasadena

Bowman Middle School, Plano

Gorzycki Middle School, Austin

Hudson Bend Middle School, Lake Travis

Murphy Middle School, Plano

Simon Middle School, Hays

Redesignation I

Alexander Middle School, Pearland ISD

Armando Chapa Middle School, Hays CISD


Barbara Bush Middle School, North East

Cal & Walt Wester Middle School, Frisco

Chisholm Trail Middle School, North West

Eastwood Middle School, Ysleta

George Dawson Middle School, Southlake Carroll

KIPP Aspire Academy Middle School, San Antonio

Lone Oak Middle School, Lone Oak

Omar Bradley Middle School, North East

Pershing Middle School, Houston


STATE DIRECTORS: Lori Gardner (801) 803-3659

Cathy Jenson (801) 538-7793

Redesignation I

Kearns Junior High School, Kearns

Redesignation II

Tonaquint Intermediate School, St. George


STATE DIRECTOR: Sandy Dutemple (703) 795-0775

Dr. Sally MacLean (703) 866-0537


Harmony Middle School, Loudoun County

Lake Ridge Middle School, Prince William County

Northside Middle School, Roanoke County

Wallace Middle School, Washington County

Redesignation I

Bull Run Middle School, Prince William County

Gainesville Middle School, Prince William County

Pennington Traditional School, Prince William County

Stone Hill Middle School, Loudoun County

Stonewall Middle School, Prince William County

Redesignation II

Blue Ridge Middle School, Loudoun County