Blue Ridge Middle School is among the latest South Carolina middle schools to be named Schools to Watch® by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The schools’ emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents’ needs and interests, and commitment to providing all students equal access to a high-quality education resulted in the well-deserved recognition. 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.
Also receiving re-designation as Schools to Watch are Beck Academy, Sevier Middle School and League Academy.
The schools will be recognized at the South Carolina Middle School Conference in Myrtle Beach in March of this year and will be recognized this summer in Washington, DC at the National Schools to Watch Conference.
Chairperson for Schools to Watch in South Carolina, Dr. David McDonald said, “These schools have all displayed great determination not to just be recognized but to showcase their commitment to continuous school improvement. Each school showcases skill and practice dedicated to creating unique experiences for middle-level learners in our state. These schools are examples for others who are using a strong framework to increase student achievement.”
There are 36 schools across South Carolina that have been named Schools to Watch, and nationwide, there are just over 550 schools who have earned the designation.
To be selected as a Schools to Watch, schools must be:
- Academically Excellent. Is the curriculum rigorous and relevant to the real world?
- Developmentally Responsive. Do students have a safe, healthy and personalized learning environment that is responsive to the unique needs and interests of young adolescents?
- Socially Equitable. Do all students have access to high-quality classes and the support they need to achieve at high levels?
- Organized with Supportive Structure. Is there shared leadership, collaborative learning communities, targeted professional development and effective organizational structures?
These schools are available for interested educators to visit and learn about the application and see first-hand what made them a Schools to Watch. They also will be showcased as models throughout the state and the nation to promote their approaches to instruction, parent and community involvement, and professional development.
In 2006, South Carolina became a Schools to Watch state 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, 17 states are involved in this school reform and recognition initiative. The program is sponsored by the South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education and the Center and the South Carolina Middle Grades Initiative. For more information about the state’s Schools to Watch program, contact SCAMLE at firstname.lastname@example.org.