Frequently Asked Questions
South Carolina Association For Middle Level Education »
Take a look at our list of the most frequently asked questions. Get in touch with us for more information!
What is Schools to Watch?
What is the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform?
What does it mean to be a School to Watch School?
Schools to Watch seeks to recognize a diverse, high-performing, growth-oriented middle grades schools to demonstrate what all middle grades schools are capable of achieving.
Schools to Watch Schools are schools that demonstrate:
- Academic Excellence. High-performing schools with middle grades are academically excellent. They challenge all students to use their minds well.
- Developmental Responsiveness. High-performing schools with middle grades are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.
- Social Equity. High-performance schools with middle grades are socially equitable, democratic and fair. They provide every student with high-quality teachers, resources, learning opportunities, and supports. They keep positive options open for all students.
- Organizational Structures and Processes. High-performing schools with middle grades are learning organizations that establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence.
- A School to Watch School is a school that is conscientiously moving to meet fully the nationally endorsed criteria for high-performing middle schools, one that has made marked progress in meeting all of the criteria, including measurable gains in the academic achievement of all students over time.
How is Schools to Watch different than other recognition programs?
When are Applications due?
Why should our school apply to be a School to Watch?
What if we begin the application process and realize we are not ready to be a School to Watch? Should we submit our application?
What process is used to determine if a school is designated a School to Watch school??
The STW criteria themselves are important, since they represent a set of rigorous, research-based indicators against which schools can measure their own performance and set improvement benchmarks. In addition, they serve as the basis for identifying exemplars at the state level.
Using a rubric fashioned upon the national STW criteria, Schools to Watch State Team members evaluate applications for “potential” schools to serve as designees. It is important to note that schools do not compete with each other for designations, but rather they compete with the rigorous criteria used to identify high-performing schools. If your application is of great interest to the readers, you will be selected for site visitation. A group from the larger Schools to Watch State Team will spend at least one day in your school further evaluating your application and your potential to serve as a high-performing, growth-oriented middle grades school that will demonstrate what all middle grades schools are capable of achieving.
State Team members currently include diverse, talented, experienced professionals working in the area of middle school improvement. Members work in various capacities, i.e. middle school teachers and counselors, middle school administrators, district administrators, college and university professors and administrators, etc.
What if we apply and are not designated as a School to Watch?
There are many ways you can participate in Schools to Watch regardless of whether or not you receive the designation. You may participate in the Schools to Watch program by
- Joining the Schools to Watch Network – a benefit of SCAMLE
- Attending Schools to Watch information and/or professional development session
- Participating in the National Schools to Watch Conference
- Visiting School to Watch schools
- Receiving feedback and support from the Schools to Watch Team.
If not selected, schools to watch strongly encourages you to reapply the following year
If we are designated as a School to Watch, what is our role in middle grades reform? What are our responsibilities?
What benefits are associated with being designated a School to Watch?
Can a School to Watch reaffirm their designation in consecutive years?
What if I still have questions?
Please direct all questions to a member of the Schools to Watch State Leadership Team.
Tina Jamison, Tjamison@ed.sc.gov
David McDonald, Co-Director, firstname.lastname@example.org