News and Events

May 2009

National Forum Meeting
The National Forum membership held a teleconference meeting on May 20, 2009. The meeting agenda overview is now available.


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Report from IES
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has published a report titled “Parent Involvement Strategies in Urban Middle and High Schools in the Northeast and Islands Region,” which describes the varied policies, practices, and programs implemented by nine urban school districts across the Northeast to engage parents in their adolescent children’s education. Former National Forum staff member, Amy Aparicio Clark, is a co-author of this report and co-led the piloting of a protocol for documenting how schools and district involve parents as their children move from elementary to middle school and then to high school.

The project sample included schools and districts that serve students from low-income households, racial and ethnic minority students, and students with limited English proficiency–all subgroups with a higher risk of school failure. The researchers explored the effectiveness of the practices and programs but found little evidence to determine whether they succeed at increasing parent involvement. The report calls for more fully articulated parent involvement programs, systematic data collection, and rigorous study designs to provide evidence of what works to engage parents of adolescents in their children’s education. An archive of a Webinar highlighting findings from the report is available at

HOPE Foundation News
Effective Leadership: National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Is Partnering with the HOPE Foundation
by Deborah Kasak
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is delighted to establish a relationship with The HOPE Foundation, and over the upcoming months we will collaborate to spread information about what is working in middle grades schools (grades 5-8) across this country. The Forum’s signature program is Schools to Watch, now in 18 states across this country with more than 200 schools identified and serving as models. Read more . . .

Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn Schools: A Program for Middle-Grades Schools on a Successful Trajectory of Improvement By Paul A. Meck
The first day of February 2008 was important for the middle level schools that were visited by the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch State Team. Along with five other schools, Meadville Area Middle School was anticipating notification on the decision of the State Team—would they be recognized as a Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn School? The answer was that they were not being recognized. Although disappointed in the decision, the middle school principal, Rebecca James, immediately took the first steps in making programmatic changes. The work of Rebecca and her leadership team was based on the report of the visitation team. One year later the response from the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch Team was different: Meadville Area Middle School was being designated as a School to Watch. Read more . . .

New report from the Southern Region Education Board
Nationwide, students in the middle grades and high school are failing to develop the reading and writing skills they need in order to meet higher academic standards later in their educational careers. Read the SREB report.

Schools to Watch Selected for 2009
Seventy-nine exemplary middle-grades schools have been named “Schools to Watch” as part of an eighteen state recognition and school improvement program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Having established partnerships with education leaders in these states, the Forum today announced the names of schools in each state that meet its strict criteria. Read the Press Release.

We invite you to join the journey to excellence!
In May, current Ohio Schools to Watch (OSTW) are opening their school doors to invite Ohio middle-level educators and communities to learn and share practices that impact school improvement. Ohio Schools to Watch Reaching for the Stars seeks to recognize diverse, high-performing, growth-oriented middle-level schools to demonstrate what all middle-level schools are capable of achieving. For OSTW information, visit our homepage at and use keyword search: OSTW. Schools are encouraged to complete the self-study tool. Questions? Call 1-877-644-6338

April 2009

Coming to the Schools to Watch Conference?
Plan to stay over June 29 and 30 to attend “Improving Instruction: Building a Culture for Differentiation” with internationally known consultant Rick Wormeli. Rick will be keynoting the STW Conference and this workshop will be an opportunity to spend two-days with him to learn how you can better incorporate differentiation practices into the learning culture of your school. This workshop is sponsored by NASSPand will be held in Reston,VA, only a few miles from Dulles Airport. For more information, go to or contact Becky Wise at

March 2009

Education Fact Sheet
President Obama sees the importance of increasing the graduation rate by focusing attention on the middle grades. Read more . . .

February 2009

National Forum Winter Meeting
The winter meeting of the National Forum board and membership took place February 11-12 through teleconference. Information is now available for the meeting overview and the Chicago Public Schools Project. information

Indicators of Middle School Implementation: How Do Kentucky’s Schools to Watch Measure Up?
This research article on Kentucky’s Schools to Watch (STW) and how they are measuring up, written by Chris Cook,Shawn Faulkner, and Lenore Kinne from Northern Kentucky University, has been published in Research in Middle Level Education Online. In the article the authors report and analyze the findings of their research that looked at the perceived level of implementation of the middle level concepts in both schools designated as a Kentucky STW and non-designated ones. In the study the authors also compared the academic performance of the two groups. The research does show a slight difference in both the level of perceived implementation of middle school concepts and student achievement between schools designated a STW and the non-designated schools. The schools designated as a STW had a greater level of implementation and student achievement was higher. In their concluding remarks the authors make several significant recommendations. Read the complete article.

2009 Schools to Watch® Conference
The Conference Brochure is now available for the 2009 Schools to Watch Conference, June 25-27 in Washington, DC. Read about the pre-conference sessions, schedule of events and keynote speaker, Rick Wormeli. Additional conference information can be found on the STW website.

What’s New with the Forum . . .
The National Forum’s executive director was among the 14 educational leaders invited to provide recommendations to the new administration. The HOPE Foundation sponsored a two-day summit to discuss and identify the most important education policies facing President Obama and Members of Congress. Read the press release here.

January 2009

Indiana Selected for 2009 Middle-Grades Reform Program
Pinehurst, NC – In its continuing effort to replicate the programs and practices of outstanding middle grades, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform has selected Indiana to implement its acclaimed Schools to Watch® program.

Indiana was chosen after a competitive selection process in which the state team demonstrated the capacity, commitment, and vision to partner with the Forum to establish the program. Indiana will now work with the Forum to select “Schools to Watch” at the middle level. Read the rest of the press release here.