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School Redesignated in STW Program
Pine-Richland Middle School has been re-designated along with DuBois Area Middle School as Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” (PA STW) a fourth time in 12 years as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.
The school hosted a celebratory assembly to present the official “Schools to Watch” award for the school on May 21, 2019, at Pine-Richland Middle School. State Representative Mr. Mike Turzai was in attendance at this assembly.
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 announced that this is the fourth time these two schools have been re-designated, and they were the first of four schools to ever be designated 12 years ago.
"We are proud of the redesignation through the Schools to Watch program," said Superintendent Brian Miller, Ed.D. "It gives us an opportunity to hold up a program against a set of criteria. STW will be embedded in the district strategic plan for 2019 - 2023 for our middle school to reflect the dynamic nature of continuous improvement.”
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. “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.
“The middle school concept focuses on a ‘team approach’ for learning and supporting students,” said Assistant Superintendent Michael Pasquinelli, Ed.D. “The daily efforts of our middle school students and staff exemplify a team of people achieving and growing together. Our next set of STW stretch goals will continue this focus on teamwork and collaboration.”
STW also announced that new schools met the strict STW criteria and include Andrew W. Mellon Middle School in the Mt. Lebanon School District; Hampton Middle School in the Hampton Township School District and Palisades Middle School in the Palisades School District in Kintnersville, PA.
In addition, four other schools were re-designated after earning designation three years ago and four others re-designated after earning designation after six years ago. PRMS and Dubois Area Middle were the only schools to be re-designated after earning designation 12 years ago of four initial schools
PRMS, along with the other re-designated school and three newest 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, D.C., at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch Conference on June 27-29, 2019.
“We are truly proud to earn the fourth honor in the Don Eichhorn ‘Schools to Watch’ Awards program,” said Principal David Kristofic, Ed.D. “Our students, staff and parents make this school the place to be.”
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.”
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 website (https://www.middlegradesforum.org/) 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.