Here is an article written by one of our STW Schools that was published in a PA
Administrative Journal.  This is a great article about the STW process
and what it has done for this school.
CLICK HERE to read more.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, Attendance Works, and the Data Quality Campaign
Invite You to Attend a Webex
Toward Smarter State School Attendance Policies: Common-Sense Strategies to Reduce
Chronic Absenteeism
Monday, September 16, 2013
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (EDT)
Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works
Karen Crompton, President, Voices for Utah Children
Fred Jones, Legislative Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
Brennan McMahon, Senior Associate, State Policy and Advocacy, Data Quality Campaign
Terry Spradlin, Director for Education Policy, Center for Evaluation & Education Policy, Indiana University
Please join the Alliance for Excellent Education, Attendance Works, and the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) for a webex examining the roles state action and policy play in ensuring students are attending school. Chronic absenteeism—missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason—is a hidden national crisis affecting up to 7.5 million students. It is a proven early warning sign of academic risk in the early grades and of dropping out of school by middle or high school. Attendance can be significantly improved when districts, families, and communities work together to nurture a culture of attendance and use data to drive interventions. State policy and local supports play critical roles in ensuring districts (1) monitor the extent to which chronic absenteeism is a problem; (2) determine which schools, grades, or populations of students need intervention; and (3) use the data to identify and overcome barriers to attending school.
Brennan McMahon will discuss the DQC’s findings about the extent to which attendance and chronic absenteeism is monitored by state data systems. Hedy Chang will share key components of smart state attendance policy. Terry Spradlin will describe how an analysis of attendance data in Indiana resulted in new state policy ensuring chronic absence is calculated, reported, and addressed by school improvement plans, and Karen Crompton will share how key stakeholders, such as state officials and celebrities, work together to improve attendance rates. Fred Jones will moderate the webex. Panelists will also address questions submitted by viewers from across the country.
Register online for the web meeting at






Seneca Valley Middle School, PA STEM Fems Program

Read more: CLICK HERE


STEM007   STEM011





Grad Nation Community Guidebook Released — Now Online!


This year’s Building a Grad Nation Report highlighted the impressive progress the country has made in preparing all children for success. The updated Grad Nation Community Guidebook — now available online — shows us how to accelerate change. 


The Community Guidebook builds on the success of the original Guidebook, which has been the most widely used tool in the Grad Nation campaign.  This new version brings together the latest approaches and resources that all communities– regardless of their size, location and challenges– can use to benefit children and youth.

The Community Guidebook offers a comprehensive framework for developing effective strategies; provides links to more detailed information, often from America’s Promise partners; and contains 16 ready-to-use tools focused on key issues, such as determining actual graduation rates, establishing early warning systems and attendance trackers, analyzing student and school performance, and conducting an assessment of individual and organizational assets. It also offers visitors the opportunity to suggest new resources and ideas.

America’s Promise created the Community Guidebook in collaboration with Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.  It was written by Robert Balfanz and Joanna Hornig Fox from the Everyone Graduates Center and by John M. Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises with support from AT&T.


To access the Community Guidebook, visit




HJHS Named School to Watch

Hillsboro Junior High School Earns Texas Schools to Watch Status














NASSP has announced the winners of its 2013 Dr. Ted Sizer Dissertation Competition. Dr. Ken Nicely won for the middle school competition.


Dr. Ken Nicely, winner of the middle level competition, is the director of secondary instruction and technology for Roanoke (VA) County Public Schools. His dissertation, Middle Level Schools in an Era of Standards and Accountability: Adaptations of the Features of the Middle School Concept, explored the development and testing of an innovation configuration map for the middle school concept implemented in the context of standards and accountability. The product of the process was the development of a diagnostic implementation of the middle level philosophy of education.

“Dr. Nicely’s study comes at an opportune time as many middle level schools are struggling to find a way to maintain the middle level concept in an era of standards and accountability,” said Patti Kinney, NASSP associate director of middle level services. “His creation of a diagnostic tool to aide in the identification of critical features of the middle level concept in today’s educational context should prove valuable to both researchers and practitioners.”

Prior to his appointment to his current position at the central office, Dr. Nicely was principal of Hidden Valley Middle School, A Virginia School to Watch which was recently redesignated.

Ken is a member of VMSA Board of Directors, and has graciously served on and been chair of site visit teams for Schools to Watch.  Our congratulations to Dr. Nicely on his recognition from NASSP for a fine research study.





On April 4, 2013 the U.S. Department of Education held a session on Structuring Schools and Classrooms for Success in the Middle Grades; Practitioner and Student Experiences


This brownbag session covered topics on Young Adolescent Brain Development, Academic Mindsets, and Successful School Practices and explored the implications of that content for middle grades students and educators in the school-based setting. In addition, practitioners discussed how highlighted strategies impact and support student success, and the students explored what compels and motivates them to work hard and succeed.


Featured panelists included 3 Schools to Watch Schools:


(from Stonewall Middle School in Manassas, VA)
– John Miller, Principal (John couldn’t make it so Stephanie came)
– Norman Jones, student


(from Gainesville Middle School in Gainesville, VA)
– Tricia Harmon, SIGNET Gifted Education Department Chair
– Zaki Panjsherri, student


(from Mary G. Porter Traditional, a K-8 school, in Woodbridge, VA)
– Darci Whitehead, principal
– Hamza Mir, students


Then in the am the panel was called


Middle Grades Session Part I: Adolescent Brain Development, Academic Mindsets, and Successful School Practices




Juliana Paré-Blagoev , EdD — Overview of the Early Adolescent Brain
Juliana Paré-Blagoev is the Assistant Director of the Strategic Education Research Partnership Institute (SERP).


Lisa Sorich Blackwell, Ph.D. — Overview of Developing High-Level Non-Cognitive Skills, with a Focus on Academic Mindsets
Dr. Lisa Blackwell is Mindset Works’ Co-Founder and VP of Design, Implementation & Evaluation


Deborah Kasak, EdD — Overview of Best Practices among High-Performing Middle Schools Deborah is the Executive Director for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Highlighted 2 more STW: Basalt Middle School and Woodbridge Middle School and their practices for developing student agency. Woodbridge is also an NASSP Breakthrough School.


Deb Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the US Department of Education, moderated the panel.


2013 California Distinguished Schools
California Schools to Watch is pleased to announce that 14 of our 48 Schools to Watch- Taking Center Stage schools have also received special recognition from the California State Department of Education and are being awarded as 2013 California Distinguished Schools.  Schools receiving the award are:
1.     Canyon Middle
2.     Kastner Intermediate
3.     Richard Henry Dana Middle
4.     Bernice Ayer Middle
5.     Thurston Middle
6.     Pioneer Middle
7.     Andrew Carnegie Middle
8.     Summit Intermediate
9.     Olive Peirce Middle
10. Rancho Milpitas Middle
11. Scotts Valley Middle
12. Medea Creek Middle
13. Union Middle School
And “honorable mention” goes to Katherine L. Albiani Middle School!
Five of the schools selected for this award are newly selected California STW and were among the 12 new schools selected this year and 9 redesignated STW.



Pair of San Bernardino County Middle Schools Receive State Honor 

Summit Intermediate in Rancho Cucamongo and Vanguard Prep in Apple Valley are among 12 middle schools to receive the Schools To Watch designation this year in California.  These two schools are the first Schools to Watch in San Bernardino County. You can read more at



Global Green USA reached out to the National Forum about its Green School Makeover Competition.  Information regarding this opportunity can be found at The deadline for applying is March 31st, 2013.



High Desert School CA STW– on Rock Center with Brian Williams

High Desert School, a CA STW located in Acton-Aqua Dolce Unified School District, has become a Congressional Medal of Honor Character Development Program school.  It is the first school in California to participate in this program and the program kickoff was held on September 20th and included participation by Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Major General Patrick Brady and Colonel Bruce Crandal.

Also attending were Lt. Colonel Gene Cummins of Edwards Air Force Base, William Anderson, U.S. Navy Retired, Pearl Harbor Survivor and several other military representatives. The United State Air Force Band and Color Guard joined with the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and L.A. County Fire Department to honor the Congressional Medal of Honor recipients with a parade and celebration at the school.

Alison O’Brien, Producer of NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams and MSNBC News Correspondent Mike Taibbi were present to record the special event for broadcast on Rock Center next week.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Character Development Program features lessons focued on the values of Integrity, Commitment, Coursge, Sacrifice, Patriotism, and Citizenship.  These are blended with District values including Excellence, Respect, Integrity and Courage.

Dr. Howard, President-elect of The National Forum was invited as a special guest to participate in the parade, ceremony and activities. Watch Congressional Medal of Honor Program Video

Bob HeberlinHeaberlin to Receive Association for Middle Level Education
2012 Distinguished Educator Award

Westerville, OH – Dr. Robert Heaberlin, principal of Lee Middle School GA School to Watch, in Coweta County, Georgia is the 2012 recipient of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) Distinguished Educator Award. The award, sponsored by Pearson, will be presented to Heaberlin on November 9, 2012, by the AMLE Foundation at the 39th Annual Conference for Middle Level Education in Portland, Oregon.

“Dr. Bob,” as he is affectionately known, is in his fortieth year in education, having served as a teacher at all levels, as a high school coach, and as a principal of elementary, middle, and high schools.  He has been active in professional organizations, serving as president of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders and president of the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals.  He is a member of the Georgia Middle School Association and the NASSP No Child Left Behind Task Force, for which he met with the House and Senate Education Committees and members of the U.S. Department of Education. He has advocated for additional funding in Georgia for schools that adhere to the middle school concept.

Heaberlin’s vision for Lee Middle School is to ensure the academic success and positive social growth of each student, and he encourages students to strive to exceed as scholars and citizens.  He follows the principles for successful middle schools identified in This We Believe:  Keys to Educating Young Adolescents to personalize the learning environment and focus on professional development.

In 2012, Lee Middle School was named a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. At the Lighthouse schools ceremony, Dr. John Lounsbury commented, “Lee Middle School is a model school.  It represents the best of what a middle school should be.”

Heaberlin was named this year’s National Association of Elementary School Principals’ National Distinguished Middle School Principal of the Year, the 2006 Outstanding Middle Level Georgia Educator, and received Georgia’s 2008 Dr. John Lounsbury Award.  In February, he was honored by the Georgia House of Representatives with a resolution honoring his accomplishments in education.

According to Carrie DeBilzan, a Lee Middle School teacher, “I can honestly say that his astounding leadership has changed the way in which I regard the teaching profession. His promotion of the middle school concept and his notion that all educators have a purpose in implementing change and modeling best practices in their fields of study convinced me that not only is he dedicated to his role as a principal, but he is an inspiration to anyone who has ever had the privilege of working with him.”