is 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
- 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 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.