NEWS RELEASES 2012-13 :: FEBRUARY 28, 2013


A.L. Stanback Middle School (Orange County), Hamlet Middle School (Richmond County), and Randleman Middle School (Randolph County) are the latest North Carolina middle schools to be named Schools to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. They were recognized because of their emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents’ needs and interests, and commitment to providing all students equal access to a high-quality education.

Schools are recognized for a three-year period, at the end of which they must apply for re-designation and demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the National Forum’s rigorous criteria. The following 10 North Carolina middle schools were re-designated as Schools to Watch:

  • Chowan Middle School (Edenton-Chowan), Hendersonville Middle School (Henderson County), and William Lenoir Middle School (Caldwell County) earned their first re-designation.
  • Broad Creek Middle School (Carteret County), Carrington Middle School (Durham County), Flat Rock Middle School (Henderson County), and Jefferson Middle School (Winston-Salem/Forsyth County) were re-designated for the second time.
  • East Lincoln Middle School (Lincoln County), John Griffin Middle School (Cumberland County), and South Charlotte Middle School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg) – first recognized nine years ago—were re-designated for the third time.

North Carolina currently has 30 middle schools designated as Schools to Watch.

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. These schools will be showcased as models throughout the state and the nation to promote their approaches to instruction, parent and community involvement, and professional development. The schools also will be recognized in March at the North Carolina Middle School Conference in Greensboro and this summer in Washington, DC at the National Schools to Watch Conference.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, “We know that the middle grades are important to students’ healthy development and to success in high school. These schools model through leadership, instruction and assessment how to prepare students so that they will be successful in high school and life after graduation.”

Schools to Watch are recognized based on their ability to promote learning at high levels. There are high expectations for every student, and these schools understand the importance of balancing a rigorous education with one that engages students at this unique age level,” said Dr. John Harrison, executive director of the North Carolina Middle School Association.

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 to serve as models of excellence for other schools. Currently, 19 states are involved in this school reform and recognition 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 provides leadership to the state's efforts.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 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, at 910.235.3761 or

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.