The Schools to Watch program is part of a national initiative by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform which is comprised by an alliance of educators, researchers, national associations and officers of professional organizations and foundations committed to promoting the academic performance and healthy development of young adolescents. This program was developed in the late 1990s with a mission to unite key stakeholders to speak with a common voice to leverage research, policy, leadership and replicable practices to drive middle grades reform. Their vision was to prepare students to be lifelong learners ready for college, career and citizenship and make every middle-grades school academically excellent, responsive to the developmental needs and interests of young adolescents and socially equitable.


    In 2015, Starpoint Middle School staff began the Schools to Watch process in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the middle school building. During this time, the staff analyzed the 7 Essential Elements of the New York State Middle School Association and completed the Essential Elements: Schools to Watch Self-Study and Rating Rubric which is based on the 37 criteria set by the National Forum for high-performing middle grades schools. Specifically, Starpoint Middle collected data that would demonstrate how they met the following criteria: 1. Academic Excellence : high-performing schools with middle grades are academically excellent and challenge all students to use their minds as well., 2. Developmental Responsiveness: high-performing schools with middle grades are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence., 3. Social Equity: high-performing schools with middle grades are socially equitable, democratic and fair and provide every student with high-quality teachers, resources, learning opportunities and supports., 4. Organization Structures and Processes: high-performing schools with middle grades are learning organizations that establish norms, structures and organizational arrangement to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence.


    Once the data was collected and all necessary programs were in place, an extensive written application was submitted to the State of New York Education Department. The application that was submitted met the rigorous criteria and Starpoint Middle was then granted a site visit by a three member team appointed by the NYS Education Department. The site visit team spent two full days at Starpoint Middle School thoroughly reviewing our middle school beliefs and practices which include, but are not limited to: the middle school concept and master schedule, the academic program of study, the rigorous curriculum, the use of instructional best practices, the implementation of technology, the personalized environment for the middle level mind, the opportunities for student leadership, the beliefs systems in the building such as our motto, EMPOWERED to Succeed, the opportunities for athletic and co-curricular activities, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and the Response to Intervention process.


    In order to gather evidence, the site visit team conducted several observations of classroom instruction, teacher team meetings, bus arrival and departures and student social interactions in the hallway and cafeteria. They also held interviews with the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, the Board of Education President, students, parents, administrators, teachers and custodians.  


    As a result, Starpoint Middle School is very pleased to announce that it has received the Schools to Watch Designation from the State of New York Education Department. Starpoint Middle School was recently recognized by New York State Commissioner of Education & President of the University of the State of New York, MaryEllen Elia, New York State Office of Curriculum and Instruction : EESTW State Co-Director Marybeth Casey and will be recognized this summer in Washington, D.C. at the National Schools to Watch Conference. Starpoint Middle School is also planning a local Schools to Watch celebration with our staff, students and community later in the year.


    We would like thank the Starpoint Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Croft, Assistant Superintendent Mrs. Braunscheidel, staff, students, parents and community members for your ongoing support. This designation reflects an entire community that supports the unique needs of the middle level child.


    Congratulations to Starpoint Middle School and our community on the Schools to Watch Designation.


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