New Jersey Schools to Watch High-Performing Middle Grades Schools for the 21st Century Middle Grades—At the Crossroads •Too many schools are middle schools in “name or grade configuration” only •When middle grades reform is implemented with consistency, over time we know middle grades schools can be powerful communities of learning •Comprehensive middle grades reform yields higher achievement Middle Grades—At the Crossroads Structural changes are necessary but not sufficient Focus on rigorous curriculum, effective instruction, and multiple forms of assessment Targeted, ongoing professional development and teacher preparation for middle level educators What is the National Forum? The National Forum is a group of educators, researchers, state and regional school leaders, national education associations and foundations dedicated to improving education for middle-grades students across the country. Some of the organizations who are members of the National Forum include... The Work of the Forum • Establish a common vision and language for speaking about middle-grades school improvement among stakeholders • Forge sustainable partnerships among state agencies and organizations seeking to improve middle-grades schools • Train leaders at the state, district, and school levels to assess school performance using a set of rigorous criteria • Provide exemplars and inspiration for schools seeking to improve performance Schools to Watch History 1994-1995 - Carnegie, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Lilly Endowment and others meet to discuss middle grades reform issues 1997 - Speaking With One Voice published in Kappan. National Forum convenes 1999 - Following development of criteria, first four pilot Schools to Watch selected and recognized 2002 - Schools to Watch national recognition moves to the state level—California, Georgia, and North Carolina are s& trained at NMSA Headquarters by the Forum’s STW Committee 2003 - Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, & Virginia join; 14 STW recognized Schools to Watch History 2004 – National Forum incorporates and becomes an independent 501(c)(3) organization. New York & Ohio join. As governance issues develop, state leaders work with Forum leadership to create an oversight committee to further the work. 40 Schools are recognized. 2005 – Arkansas & Michigan become STW states. 55 schools recognized. The first state STW go through re-certification, with three schools retired. The first national STW conference draws over 400 participants to Washington, DC. States identify “archivists” to collect data about the impact of STW. 2006 – Pennsylvania, South Carolina & Utah join STW. 50% of the nation’s middle school students live in STW states. 86 STW. 2007 – New Jersey & Oregon become STW states. 126 STW across the nation. The Vision Academic Excellence STRUCTURES NORMS PROCESSES Close Reading 1. Take a few minutes to read the Vision 2. Focus on words or phrases that seem most important and powerful to you 3. Underline the two most important words or phrases (ONLY two!) 4. Share with others around you which words you underlined and why they were powerful for you Academic Excellence High-performing schools with middle grades are academically excellent. They challenge all students to use their minds well, providing them with the curriculum, instruction, assessment, support and time they need to meet rigorous academic standards. They recognize that early adolescence is characterized by dramatic cognitive growth, which enables students to think in more abstract and complex ways. The curriculum and extra-curricular programs in such schools are challenging and engaging, tapping young adolescents' boundless energy, interests, and curiosity. Students learn to understand important concepts, develop essential skills, and apply what they learn to real-world problems. Adults in these schools maintain a rich academic environment by working with colleagues in their schools and communities to deepen their own knowledge and improve their practice. Developmental Responsiveness High-performing schools with middle grades are developmentally responsive. Such schools create small learning communities of adults and students in which stable, close, and mutually respectful relationships support all students' intellectual, ethical, and social growth. They provide comprehensive services to foster healthy physical and emotional development. Students have opportunities for both independent inquiry and learning in cooperation with others. They have time to be reflective and numerous opportunities to make decisions about their learning. Developmentally responsive schools involve families as partners in the education of their children. They welcome families, keep them well informed, help them develop their expectations and skills to support learning, and assure their participation in decision making. These schools are deeply rooted in their communities. Students have opportunities for active citizenship. They use the community as a classroom, and community members provide resources, connections, & active support. Social Equity High-performing schools with middle grades are socially equitable. They seek to keep their students' future options open. They have high expectations for all their students and are committed to helping each child produce work of high quality. These schools make sure that all students are in academically rigorous classes staffed by experienced and expertly prepared teachers. These teachers acknowledge and honor their students' histories and cultures. They work to educate every child well and to overcome systematic variation in resources and outcomes related to race, class, gender and ability. They engage their communities in supporting all students' learning and growth. Academic Excellence Vision Statement STW Criteria The school challenges all students to use their •All students are expected minds well, providing to meet high academic them with the curriculum, standards. instruction, assessment, support and •Curriculum, instruction, time they need to meet assessment, and appropriate rigorous academic interventions are aligned standards. with standards and are rigorous. Developmental Responsiveness Vision Statement STW Criteria •The school creates a The school creates small personalized environment learning communities of that supports each student’s adults and students in intellectual, ethical, social, which stable, close, and and physical development. mutually respectful •The school provides access relationships support all to comprehensive services to students’ intellectual, foster healthy physical, ethical, and social growth. social, emotional, and intellectual development. Social Equity Vision Statement STW Criteria To the fullest extent The school has high possible, all students, expectations for all including English students and is learners, students with committed to helping disabilities and gifted each child produce work students, participate in of high quality. heterogeneous classes with high academic and behavioral expectations. Organizational Structures & Processes Vision Statement STW Criteria • A shared vision of what a There are norms, high-performing school is and structures, and does drives every facet of organizational school change. arrangements that support • The principal has the responsibility and authority to and sustain the school’s hold the school-improvement trajectory toward enterprise together, including excellence in all areas. day-to-day know-how, coordination, strategic planning, and communication. Schools to Watch States 2002 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 3 Students in STW States 19% California Georgia North Carolina Schools to Watch States 2003 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 7 Students in STW States 29% California Colorado Georgia Illinois North Carolina Kentucky Virginia Schools to Watch States 2004 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 9 Students in STW States 39% California Colorado New York Georgia Illinois Ohio North Carolina Kentucky Virginia Schools to Watch States 2005 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 11 Students in STW States 43% California Colorado New York Arkansas Georgia Illinois Ohio Michigan North Carolina Kentucky Virginia Schools to Watch States 2006 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 14 Students in STW States 50% California Colorado New York Arkansas Pennsylvania Georgia Illinois Ohio Michigan South Carolina North Carolina Kentucky Utah Virginia Schools to Watch States 2007 Number of Nation’s STW States: Middle Level 16 Students in STW States 53% California Colorado New York Arkansas Pennsylvania New Jersey Georgia Illinois Ohio Michigan S. Carolina Oregon N. Carolina Kentucky Utah Virginia Common Threads While each school faces different challenges related to its location, student demographics, levels of district support, and other factors, common themes emerge. Common Threads Schools to Watch: Know and articulate the academic outcomes they seek. In some cases, the outcomes are prescribed by the state or district; in others the faculty have adopted the outcomes recommended by their various disciplines. Take deliberate steps to help students achieve those outcomes by making strategic changes in curriculum, teaching, and school services. Common Threads Schools to Watch: Enjoy a high degree of family & community involvement (but are never satisfied with their current levels). Demonstrate a high level of faculty commitment. Common Threads Schools to Watch: Set benchmarks for implementing their strategies and hold themselves accountable for specific results. We cannot stress too much the importance of data in the lives of these schools. Strategically concentrate their energies on important focus areas. As a result, the changes in each school are burrowing deeply into its culture. Common Threads Schools to Watch: Have strong, visionary leaders who can articulate challenging goals and motivate faculty and staff to reach those goals. The schools are filled with happy, positive, and involved students and adults who are all actively learning! STW State Partnerships State Partners Arkansas AR Assoc. of Middle Level Educators, Mid- South Middle Start, AR Assoc. of Middle Level Administrators, AR Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, AR Dept. of Education California CA League of Middle Schools, CA Dept. of Education, Assoc. of CA School Administrators, CA Co. Superintendents Ed. Services Assoc., CA Middle Grades Partnership Network, CA School Boards Assoc. Colorado CO Assoc. of Middle Level Educators, University of Northern Colorado, Front Range BOCES STW State Partnerships State Partners Georgia GA Middle School Assoc., GA Dept. of Education, GA Alliance for Middle Level Excellence, Southern Regional Education Board Illinois Assoc. of Illinois Middle Schools, IL Staff Development Council Kentucky Center for Middle School Academic Achievement, Collaborative for Teaching & Learning, KY Middle School Assoc., KY Forum, KY Dept. of Education STW State Partnerships State Partners Michigan MI Association of Secondary School Principals, MI Coalition of Essential Schools, MI Dept. of Education, MI Federation of Teachers, MI Middle Start, MI Schools in the Middle, Walden University New York NY State Middle School Assoc., NY State Education Dept., NY State United Teachers, School Administrators Assoc. of NY State, NY State Assoc. of Teacher Educators, NY Association of Colleges of Teacher Ed., NY State PTA, NY City Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform North Carolina NC Middle School Association, NC Dept. of Public Instruction, East Carolina Univ., NC Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform STW State Partnerships State Partners Ohio OH Dept. of Education, OH Middle School Assoc., OH American Federation of Teachers, Otterbein College Pennsylvania PA Middle School Assoc., PA Dept. of Education, Lehigh Univ., Gettysburg College, Duquesne Univ. South Carolina SC Middle School Assoc., SC Assoc. of School Administrators, SC Dept. of Education, SC Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform STW State Partnerships State Partners Utah UT Middle Level Assoc., UT Assoc. of Secondary School Principals, UT Assoc. of Elementary School Principals, UT State Office of Education, UT Education Assoc. Virginia Virginia Middle School Association, Virginia Department of Education New Jersey Schools to Watch Program Partners New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey Consortium for Middle Schools NJEA NJMSA Kean, Rider, Rowan, and William Paterson Universities Apple Computers NJPSA NJASCD New Jersey Schools to Watch Theme: Growing, Learning and Succeeding Target: Any school with grades 6, 7, and/or 8 Does not have to be a “middle school” Must show steady improvement and commitment to the needs of the whole child New Jersey Schools to Watch Application process Principal’s Checklist Self-Study and Rating Rubric Application and Narrative Site Visit New Jersey Schools to Watch Applications are reviewed by the core team (partner organizations) (Fall 2007) Schools are selected for a full-day site visit Site visits conducted by 3-4 educators representing the partners (Dec-Jan. 2008) NJSTW designation awarded in February 2008 New Jersey Schools to Watch Schools are designated for three years only Schools must participate in professional development (e.g., conferences) Schools must be willing to allow visitations from aspiring schools Schools must continue to improve and focus on STW principles New Jersey Schools to Watch At the end of the 3 years, schools must reapply for designation Schools cannot use the NJSTW name or logo of National Forum if they are not designated NJSTW will add a “commended” status for those schools almost there New Jersey Schools to Watch For information contact: New Jersey Department of Education Office of District and School Improvement Services Linda Morse, Director 609-777-2872 email@example.com OR Gail Hilliard Nelson, Director New Jersey Consortium for Middle Schools Kean University 908-737-3866 firstname.lastname@example.org I believe that every young adolescent… Has the capacity to learn, grow, and develop into a knowledgeable, reflective, caring, ethical, and contributing citizen Must be engaged in learning that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and explorative Must have access to the very best programs and practices a school can offer From: This I Believe, NMSA New Jersey Schools to Watch New Jersey Schools to Watch: Growing, Learning and Succeeding!
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