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A Supportive Community Produces Outstanding Learners

Union Middle School, San Jose, Calif.

Whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform has named Union Middle School as one of its 2013 California Schools to Watch. This suburban school—located in San Jose, California—is most noteworthy for being ranked in the top 10 percent of state middle schools, due in part to its success in collaborative education efforts that provide student support. The commitment to excellence is also reflected in Union’s Academic Performance Index (API) score, which is nearly perfect by California state standards.

Support Leads to Growth and Success

Thurston Middle School, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Located in Laguna Beach, California, Thurston Middle School was recently named a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The school has consistently set and achieved growth targets for standardized tests through a supportive environment for every student. Drawing from multiple strategies, such as best first practices and response to intervention, Thurston Middle School has met and exceeded expectations–even its own.

High Expectations Yield Valuable Lessons

Fairmont Elementary K–8 School, Sanger, Calif.

Fairmont Elementary K–8 School, recently named a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, sets the bar high for educational achievement. Located in Sanger, California, Fairmont works to help its students succeed by providing them with a safe learning environment, diverse intellectual opportunities, and a strong partnership with families and the local community. Students understand the high expectations held by their teachers and school administrators, and they strive to work at that level each day.

Culture of Respect Brings Arkansas School to the Top

Crossett Middle School, Crossett, Ark.

As one of whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform’s 2013 Diamond Schools to Watch, Crossett Middle School—located in Crossett, Arkansas—is a model for middle-level education. The criteria for this commendation fall into three main categories: academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, and social equity. Principal Lou Gregorio cites the positive and respectful culture of the school (PDF) as the main factor in student, As one of the 2013 Diamond Schools to Watch, Crossett Middle School is a model for middle-level education and school culture.parent, and educator satisfaction.

Strong Values Guide School Community to Success

Melrose High School, Pearce, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Melrose High School nurtures and values social and cultural learning abilities and styles. The inclusive environment provides students with a diverse range of learning opportunities with the goal of producing leaders and learners of the future. The school reinforces strong values which are based on "RESPECT:" Resources, Effort, Self, Peers, Environment, Community, Teachers. The values guide the school community in the way they conduct themselves. They also reinforce a safe and health-promoting environment which ensures that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Melrose High School is an outstanding and inclusive government school whose multicultural composition is reflected in the strong cultivation of students as global citizens. The school works closely with its local and extended community to provide a well-balanced and stimulating curriculum with strengths in academic, sporting, and cultural pursuits. Specialist learning facilities, a new gymnasium, and a wonderful array of sporting and recreational facilities enable students to enjoy the educationally stimulating environment and the friendship of a diverse student body.

Community School Provides Easy Access to Host of Services

Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio

A recipient of the 2011 National Community Schools Award for Excellence from whole child partner the Coalition for Community Schools, Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the true spotlight of its community.

Focused on strengthening the seamless integration of academic and nonacademic partnerships, the school provides easy access to a host of services through its Community Learning Center, where partners and community and family members are able to play a vital role in students' success. Forty-two percent more of students are scoring proficient or higher on the Ohio Achievement Assessment, and community volunteers have increased by over 100 percent—a true testament to the excellence in academics and infectious dedication Ethel M. Taylor Academy inspires.

PRIDE Program Shines in Renaissance School

Tri-West Middle School, Lizton, Ind.

"Dream ... Believe ... Achieve ... Remember ... Anything's Possible" is the motto that echoes throughout the hallways of Tri-West Middle School in Lizton, Ind., a recipient of the 2011 School to Watch® award from whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

One of 2,000 Renaissance Schools in the United States, Tri-West Middle School motivates both its students and its staff to achieve excellence and be enthusiastic about education through various rewards programs, such as the High-Five Luncheon and Honor Roll Breakfast of Champions, events that applaud the students' and the staff's drive to succeed.


Integration of PBIS, RTI, and Character Education Escalate Achievement Growth

Charles M. Russell Middle School of the Performing Arts and Sciences, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Setting the stage for student engagement, performance, and growth is what Charles M. Russell Middle School of the Performing Arts and Sciences in Colorado Springs, Colo., is all about.

Through the integration of Positive Behavior Intervention Support, Response to Intervention, and character education, the school has escalated the growth and achievement of its students by incorporating academic practices with global and cultural awareness and helps instill a moral compass within each student.

Designated as a Colorado School of Character for the past two years and a School to Watch® by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, Russell Middle School truly values creating an invaluable school experience for its students.

Middle School’s Vision Becomes Reality Through Strong Leadership

Franklin Middle School, Champaign, Ill.

"E2: To Exceed Expectations" is the vision of Franklin Middle School in Champaign, Ill., a recipient of the 2011 Breakthrough School Award from the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Thanks to Principal Angela Smith's leadership, the school has created a positive environment focused on building strong relationships among the staff and students, collecting data through innovative methods that allow for effective responses to students' needs, and achieving excellence through collaborative leadership. Located in an economically challenged area with years of racial conflict and with 52 percent of the student body economically disadvantaged, 18 percent students with special needs, and 62 percent racial minorities, Franklin Middle School has transitioned from a rough past to an incredible present and a very bright future.

Motivation Is Key

Smokey Road Middle School, Newnan, Ga.

Motivation is key at Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan, Ga., a recipient of the 2011 Breakthrough School Award by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals.

After previous instability, Principal Laurie Barron stepped in and placed a priority on finding a common mission, collaborative leadership, and a continued focus on academic improvement. Committed to making the school a place where students could flourish both in and out of the classroom, the school also partners with local businesses to recognize and reward students and celebrate their academic and nonacademic talents. For the last five years, Smokey Road Middle School has met its adequate yearly progress goals to qualify as a Title I Distinguished School.

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Fast, Free, Online: The ASCD School Improvement Tool

Designed for use in schools and districts, the free ASCD School Improvement Tool offers educators a comprehensive and completely online needs assessment.