Background History

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations committed to promoting the academic performance and healthy development of young adolescents. The Forum developed in 1997 out of a sense of urgency that middle-grades school improvement had stalled, amid a flurry of descending test scores, increasing reports of school violence, and heated debates about the nature and purpose of middle-grades education. All agreed that nothing short of collective and concerted action could result in high-performing middle-grades schools and students.

Over the past six years, the Forum has flourished, successfully reframing the national discourse about middle-grades education. Major organizations, foundations, and others of influence have articulated and affirmed that schools do not have to choose between equity and excellence, or between a healthy school climate and a strong academic program. Rather, as articulated in the Forum’s vision statement, they must focus on all of these if they want students to achieve at significantly higher levels. By endorsing this common vision, Forum members have developed common goals and understandings, strengthened individual efforts to improve schools that serve middle-grades students, collaborated across institutional and other boundaries, and worked together to mobilize others in the larger middle-grades community.

To accomplish its goal of improved academic and developmental outcomes for all students in the middle grades, the Forum identifies and disseminates best practices, articulates and promotes effective policies, recognizes and develops enlightened leadership, and informs and engages the public.
With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that believes that to lift any people out of poverty they must be provided with proper tools so that they will be able to lead a healthier life and live a fulfilling life. They also think that women and young girls have a potential that is unique to shape the society again. Visit the following site, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Forum has implemented several key initiatives. These initiatives include the following:

  • The Forum hopes to impact schools at the classroom level.Schools to Watch (STW) program: The Forum developed criteria for identifying high-performing middle-grades schools, selected four successful schools in a national search, and high-lighted their achievements. It also selects states to receive training in order to recognize their own model schools. Participating states include CA, CO, GA, IL, KY, NC, NY, OH,& VA.Comprehensive School Reform:The Forum convenes 7 CSR model developers counted among its membership to discuss common issues and work together to address them.
  • The Forum works to develop thenext generation of middle-grades leaders. In 1999 it brought together 60 leaders from 10 states to form the Southern Forum. The National Forum continues to work closely with this and other regional groups committed to accelerating school improvement. To extend its reach among emerging leaders, the Forum developed a leadership curriculum and runs training events based on it.• The Forum is committed toinforming and engaging the public. It articulates and broadly disseminates policy recommendations on critical education issues such as student assignment patterns, high-stakes testing, and teacher preparation and licensure. By educating policy makers, practitioners, parents and community members about the latest research, effective policy, and best practice, the Forum hopes to facilitate reform. The Forum also seeks to unite stakeholders in promoting education beyond high school for middle-grades students. Through the PALMS Project (Postsecondary Access for Latino Middle-Grades Students), the Forum and its partners will identify programs that are effectively reaching the parents of Latino middle-grades students with information about how to prepare their children for college.