MECHANICSBURG — Souderton Charter School Collaborative has been redesignated a Don Eichhorn Schools to Watch.

Six exemplary middle grade schools in Pennsylvania have been redesignated to the PA STW list as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, a release said.

The six are: 

Re-designated for the 2nd time: Central Valley Middle School, Monica, which was originally recognized six years ago.

Re-designated for the 3rd time — These schools were originally recognized nine years ago:

Cambria Heights Middle School, Patton

Kennett Middle School – Landenberg

Souderton Charter School Collaborative – Souderton

Titusville Middle School – Titusville

Re-designated for the 4th time — Avonworth Middle School, Pittsburgh, which was originally recognized 12 years ago.

"These six schools join 36 other Pennsylvania middle-grades schools previously recognized and still active in the STW process. The six re-designated schools will be recognized at the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Educations Virtual State Conference on February 27 & 28, 2021. Depending on the status of schools in the spring, each of these schools will have a local celebration in either May or June of 2021 in their school. They will also be recognized nationally with all the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington DC at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch Conference on June 24-26 2021," the release said.

The schools were chosen for academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structures and processes, the release said.

"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," the release said.

“We congratulate these schools for being places that do great things for all of their students. 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 ensure that every child has access to a challenging, high-quality education," said PA State STW Director Bruce Vosburgh. "In addition, each of these schools have successfully been able to provide a quality education to their students either through a hybrid or total virtual model. 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 Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work. With this being a Pandemic year with limited access to schools, each of these schools was visited virtually over a two-day period," the release said. "Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated. Unlike the Blue Ribbon recognition program, 'Schools to Watch' requires schools to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas for continuous improvement; thus the three year re-designation. The re-designation process is based on the schools continued growth since their last STW recognition."

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 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a website https://www.middlegradesforum.org/ that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program. There are now 17 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch state teams, with more than 650 schools recognized across the country.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

Information about the STW program can be found on the website of the National Forum at https://www.middlegradesforum.org/schools-to-watch

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