National School To Watchis an initiative launched by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform in 1999. The National Forum is an alliance of more than 60 educators, researchers, and officers of national associations and foundations dedicated to improving schools for young adolescents across the country.

Through the Schools to Watch initiative, the National Forum identifies schools across the United States that are well on their way to meeting the Forum's criteria for high performance. Forum members believe that three things are true of high-performing middle-grades schools:

  • They are academically excellent – these schools challenge all students to use their minds well.
  • They are developmentally responsive – these schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.
  • They are socially equitable – these schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.

To achieve this level of performance, high-performing schools establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence. They have a sense of purpose that drives every facet of practice and decision-making.

Prairie Middle SchoolPrairie Middle School was added to the National Schools to Watch list in 2007. We were selected by state leaders for our academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and our commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. At Prairie, we have strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.