Five Kentucky middle schools are among the 98 exemplary middle-grades schools from 16 states that have been named Schools to Watch (STW) as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

Monroe Middle School (Monroe County); North Middle School (Henderson County); Belfry Middle School (Pike County); Benton Middle School (Marshall County); and Olmstead School (Logan County) were selected by state leaders for their academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. 

In addition, each school has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

Selection is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the Forum. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams who 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 must repeat the process in order to be redesignated. Thirty-eight of the 98 schools recognized have maintained or increased their levels of excellence and are being redesignated. The schools vary in size from several hundred to several thousand students and represent urban, suburban and rural communities.

Monroe and North middle schools are new honorees. Belfry and Benton middle schools are Redesignation I schools, and Olmstead School is a Redesignation II school.

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 website features detailed information about the selection criteria.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of 50 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

For more information about the Kentucky Schools To Watch, contact Karen Hamilton (859) 622-1513 or Fran Salyers at (859) 608-2368.