The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals as part of a national recognition program have designated Woodgate Intermediate School in Waco, TX and Midway ISD as a Texas School to Watch! Woodgate Intermediate School joins approximately 45 other campuses across Texas with this distinction and honor.
Woodgate Intermediate School will be recognized in Austin at the Making Middle School Matter Symposium hosted by TASSP on March 1-3, 2020. They will be recognized nationally with all of the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington DC at the National Forum Schools to Watch Conference on June 24-27, 2020.
State leaders selected Woodgate Intermediate School for its Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity and Organizational Structure and Processes. In addition, Woodgate IS has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement. Billy Pringle, State Director for Schools to Watch in Texas and TASSP Associate Executive Director for Middle-Level Services, stated, “We congratulate Principal Wes Kanawyer and his staff, students and parents for being a campus that does great things for all of their students. This school has demonstrated that a high-performing middle school is a place that focuses on academic growth and achievement. Woodgate IS is a place that recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of all students and ensures that every child has access to a challenging high-quality education.”
The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work. Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated. Unlike the Blue-Ribbon recognition program, “Schools to Watch” requires schools to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas of continuous improvement; thus, the three-year re-designation.
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 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a web site https://www.middlegradesforum.org/ that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about selection criteria used in the recognition program. There are now 17 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams, with more than 480 schools recognized across the country.
“We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment of healthy development and equity for all students,” said Ericka Uskali, National Forum Executive Director. “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 in achieving excellence, and any middle-level school in any state can truly learn from their examples,” Uskali said.
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.