4 exemplary middle schools have been recognized as 2014 Colorado Trailblazer Schools to Watch:
- Jenkins Middle School (Colorado Springs District 11)
- Lesher Middle School (Poudre School District)
- Powell Middle School (Littleton Public Schools)
- Russell Middle School (Colorado Springs District 11)
The Colorado Association of Middle Level Education recognizes these schools for challenging students to use their minds well, being sensitive to the unique developmental needs of early adolescence and providing every student with a high-quality learning experience. Jenkins, Lesher, Powell and Russell are four of 100 schools that will be recognized nationwide at the National Schools to Watch Conference on June 26, 2014.
High Performance Results from Relentless Efforts to Support the Whole Child
“These schools demonstrate that high-performance is the result of intentional focus on the whole child. A personalized environment that cultivates student curiosity, creativity, healthy physical, social-emotional, and intellectual development results in dynamic schools where students thrive!” explained Diane Lauer, State Coordinator of the Colorado Schools to Watch program. “These schools recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensuring that every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education.”
Selection is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the Forum. State teams organized by the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education conduct site visits in order to affirm that they have indeed met the rigorous requirements of the award. These teams observe classrooms, interview administrators, teachers, and parents, review achievement data, suspension rates, instructional quality, and student work. Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years must repeat the process in order to be re-designated. Of the four schools identified this year, one was selected as a first time designee, Lesher Middle School located in Fort Collins. The other three schools are being redesignated with the distinction of maintaining a trajectory of achievement for 6-9 years: Jenkins, Powell and Russell.
“These Schools to Watch are indeed special; they make education so exciting that students and teachers don’t want to miss a day. These schools have proven that it is possible to overcome barriers to achieving excellence, and any middle-level school can truly learn from their examples,” said Dr. Deborah Kasak, Forum executive director. “We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program have shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students,” Kasak said.
National Schools to Watch Program Upholds Rigorous Selection Criteria
Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 criteria developed by the Forum. The Forum developed a web site (www.middlegradesforum.org) that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program.
Nineteen states are currently involved in the program and the addition of these 4 schools raises the total number of Schools to Watch to over 350 nationwide.
The National Forum sponsors the Schools to Watch state program with the support of members, the National Association for Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Association of Middle Level Education, Learning Forward, and the State Schools to Watch programs.
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. (www.middlegradesforum.org)