Download the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and Vision Statement
Schools to Watch® 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. The National Forum’s mission is to unite key stakeholders to speak with a common voice to leverage research, policy, leadership, and replicable model practices to drive middle grades reform.
In order to prepare students to be lifelong learners ready for college, career, and citizenship, the National Forum seeks to make every middle grades school academically excellent, responsive to the developmental needs and interests of young adolescents, and socially equitable.
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 schools:
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.