Members of the National Forum have translated their beliefs about what makes a high-performing middle-grades school into evaluation criteria. We want these criteria to be as useful to a team of classroom teachers as to a group of community members on a school governance committee, to citizens advocating for school improvement, and to an individual parent seeking a good school. The criteria suggest what we should look for and what questions we should ask when we assess a middle-grades school. The criteria form the basis for the selection of our Schools to Watch. Each section of the criteria is complementary to and interdependent on the others. Although we present the sections separately, they cannot be isolated from one another in the life of the school. The truly high-performing middle-level school embodies the intersection of academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structure. It is not difficult to find middle-level schools that excel in one of the four areas of high performance. However, it is extremely difficult to find schools that excel in all four. Learn more about our current Schools to Watch. Schools are listed under their respective states.