Return to Headlines

Middle School Recognized as a "School to Watch"


Mechanicsburg, PA - Three more exemplary Middle Grades Schools in Pennsylvania have been
named PA Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” (PA STW) as part of a recognition
program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. In partnership
with the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education, Duquesne University, Edinboro
University, the Horace Mann Service Corporation and Vibra Life, the Pennsylvania “Schools to
Watch” team has announced that the following new schools have met the strict STW criteria:
Andrew W. Mellon Middle School, Mt. Lebanon SD, Pittsburgh, PA
Hampton Middle School, Hampton Township SD, Allison Park, PA
Palisades Middle School, Palisades SD, Kintnersville, PA

These three schools join 38 other Pennsylvania middle-grades schools recognized previously.
The three newest schools as well as the ten re-designated schools will be recognized at the
Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education State Conference at the Penn Stater
Conference Center in State College on February 24, 2019. They will be recognized nationally
with all the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington DC at the National
Forum’s National Schools to Watch Conference on June 27-29, 2019.

State leaders selected each school for its Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness,
Social Equity and Organizational Structures and Processes. 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. Bruce
Vosburgh, President of the National Forum, as well as the PA State STW Director, stated, “We
congratulate these schools for being places that do great things for all of their students. These
schools demonstrate that high-performing middle grades schools are places that focus on
academic growth and achievement. They are also places that recognize the importance of
meeting the needs of all of their students and ensure that every child has access to a challenging,
high-quality education.”

The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that required 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 for continuous
improvement; thus the three year re-designation.

Recognized for Re-designation (1) this year as “Schools to Watch” are four schools initially
recognized three years ago:
Bentworth Middle School, Bentworth SD, Bentleyville, PA
South Fayette Middle School, South Fayette Township SD, McDonald, PA
Wilson West Middle School, Wilson SD, Sinking Spring, PA
Wilson Southern Middle School, Wilson SD, Sinking Spring, PA

Recognized for Re-designation (2) this year are four schools that were initially recognized
six years ago. This is the second time these school has been re-designated:
Beaty-Warren Middle School, Warren County SD, Warren, PA
Elizabeth Forward Middle School, Elizabeth Forward SD, Elizabeth, PA
Neshannock Junior High School, Neshannock SD, New Castle, PA
South Side Area Middle School, South Side Area SD, Hookstown, PA

Recognized for Re-designation (4) this year are two schools that were initially recognized
twelve years ago. This is the fourth time these schools have been re-designated, and they
are the first re-designated (4) schools in PA.
DuBois Area Middle School, DuBois Area SD, DuBois, PA
Pine-Richland Middle School, Pine-Richland SD, Gibsonia, PA

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 that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed
information about the 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 to 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.

Contact person:
Bruce Vosburgh, Director, PA STW,