CAMLE Announces 2018 Colorado Trailblazer “Schools to Watch”

The Colorado Association of Middle Level Education is pleased to announce its 2018 Colorado Trailblazer “Schools to Watch”:   Basalt Middle School, Russell Middle School and Wellington Middle School.

Each of these schools challenge students to use their minds well, create a positive learning environment sensitive to the unique developmental needs of early adolescence, and deliver a high-quality learning experience for every child. Wellington is one of 100+ schools that will be recognized nationwide at the National Schools to Watch Conference on June 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.

“Basalt, Russell and Wellington Middle Schools excel in providing rich, engaging, and rigorous student learning for every child. They have built a responsive, high quality middle school that is a model for our state,” explained Diane Lauer, State Director of the Colorado Schools to Watch program. “All three demonstrate that excellence is the result of intentional focus on the whole child and a strong partnerships with the community. A caring environment that cultivates student curiosity, strong social-emotional supports, and thoughtful intellectual development results in a dynamic school where students thrive!”

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 Schools to Watch ( program 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. 

“Schools to Watch are special; they make education so exciting that students and teachers don’t want to miss a day. They are model middle-level schools and anyone can learn from their example,” said Ericka Uskali, Forum executive director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. “We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students,” Uskali said.

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 ( that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program.

Twenty states are currently involved in the program and the designation of Wellington, Russell, and Basalt raises the active number of National Schools to Watch to over 450 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. (

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