Auburn Middle redesignated after 4th School to Watch honor

Posted on April 5, 2018 10:25 PM


Auburn Middle School became the second school in Kentucky to be re-designated a Kentucky School to Watch (STW) for the fourth time. Currently, only 12 Kentucky middle grades schools hold the distinction of being a Kentucky Schools to Watch with all five elementary/middle schools in Logan County designated.

Schools to Watch is a recognition and school improvement program for middle level schools developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Kentucky is one of 18 states that has implemented the program in partnership with The National Forum.

In June, the school will receive their award at the National Forum’s annual conference in Washington, DC. While at the conference, representatives of Auburn will visit with a Kentucky legislator. In addition, the school is asked to conduct a presentation on one of the specific programs or practices that contributes to the school’s success.

Auburn Middle School was selected for its academic excellence, its responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and its commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. The 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.

Fran Salyers, co-director of the Kentucky Schools to Watch program, commented, “Student achievement is the focus at the school but at the same time a very caring and safe learning environment has been established for all students. The staff has created a middle grades program within the school that addresses the developmental needs of students this age. Our STW visit team was very impressed with all aspects of the school and how they have maintained this level of success over time.”

Selection for a visit is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they meet 37 criteria developed by the National Forum. Teams of trained reviewers who observe classrooms then visit schools that appear to meet the criteria: interviewing administrators, teachers, students, and parents; and reviewing 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 re-designated.

"The Schools to Watch program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students," said Ericka Uskali, National Forum executive director. "The 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.

Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding the criteria for a high performing middle level school set by the Forum. The Forum web site features profiles of the STW schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the program. In 2002, the Forum began working with states to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to use the Forum's criteria for high-performance for school improvement and to identify middle grades schools that meet or exceed that criteria.

Kentucky joined the program in 2003 and the Kentucky Middle School Association coordinates the state program. Seventeen states are currently involved in the program and there are about 400 Schools to Watch nationwide.

David Ward is the long-time principal at Auburn. Sarah Hatton is assistant principal and Rhonda Powell counselor.



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