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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: FEBRUARY 12, 2008


Kernersville Middle (Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools), Rogers-Herr Middle (Durham Public Schools) and West Pine Middle (Moore County Schools) have been named Schools to Watch as part of a national recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Their selection brings the total number of Schools to Watch in North Carolina to 29.

These middle schools were named Schools to Watch because of their academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and their 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 in order to bring about continuous improvement.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said she was proud of the efforts put forth by principals and teachers at these schools to not only set high standards for students but to give them the tools to achieve. "These schools prove that students can and will meet higher expectations if you believe in them and provide them with the proper support and encouragement."

Howard Lee, chairman of the State Board of Education, said, "Student performance in middle school is a strong predictor of how he or she will perform in high school. Strong middle schools are a tool to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for life in the 21st century," Lee said. "I encourage all middle schools to closely review what the Schools to Watch are doing to see how they can improve learning in their schools."

National Forum Schools to Watch Chair Dr. John Harrison said, "Schools to Watch are places where every student is challenged to do his or her best. They are places where teachers take the energy and curiosity that teenagers have and use them to help their students achieve. The three schools we are recognizing are schools where each child is known, and where every student is expected to learn and grow. The bar is set high, and students are given the help they need to achieve."

Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a program to identify middle grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding a set of strict criteria for excellence. The Forum developed a Web site featuring online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program.

In 2002, North Carolina became one of the first states selected by the National Forum to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to identify high-performing middle grades schools in their state to serve as models of excellence for other schools. Currently, 16 states are involved in this reform initiative. Different education organizations have taken the lead in each state. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Middle School Association, in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, provide leadership to the state's efforts.

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.

For more information, please contact Dr. John Harrison, executive director, NC Middle School Association, 910.235.3761, or the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.