Michigan’s director of the Schools to Watch program, Dr. Nic Cooper, has announced three new schools to be designated this year and DPS’ Ludington Magnet Middle to be re-designated as “Schools to Watch.”
These schools are exemplars of middle level education in the state and join 9 other schools that have been designated in the past 6 years. The Schools to Watch designation is meant to convey that these schools are ones that others can visit to gain an idea of how they might improve their middle school program. The Schools to Watch program is a national recognition developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform and given to middle schools throughout the country that substantially meet a set of criteria consistent with research on middle level education.
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 web site (http://www.schoolstowatch.org) 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 CA, IL and NC.
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. In 2005, Michigan joined this process and named its first three Schools to Watch. Since that time 10 other schools have been designated, and 4 have been re-designated. A school recognized as a School to Watch retains that designation for 3 years before it must re-apply for designation and demonstrate continued growth. Nationally 19 states participate and, with the addition of this year’s designees, 334 schools have been designated.
Ludington Magnet Middle is being re-designated this year!
Under the leadership of Ms. Alora Comer-Maxwell, Ludington Magnet has continued to grow since first being designated in 2008. They have developed a school where students excel, and where problems are addressed openly and decisively. They expect the best from their students and provide them with the guidance and excellent instruction to allow them to achieve at their highest level.
Dr. Deborah Kasak, National Forum Executive Director expressed her appreciation for the new designees by saying, “We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment of healthy development and equity for all students. 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 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.”
The National Forum sponsors the Schools to Watch program along with the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE/formerly NMSA), the National Association for Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Learning Forward, ASCD, and State Schools to Watch affiliates.
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.