NCMLENorth Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (formerly North Carolina Middle School Association)

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Schools to Watch

Only 400 schools across the nation have been recognized as a "School to Watch."


Reid Ross Classical

2015 School to Watch

Pictured (l-r) Dr. Cathy Tomon, STW Director; Ms. Laura Corraro, NCMLE President; Mr. Thomas Hatch, Reid Ross Classical Principal; Ms. LaQuisha Leath, Reid Ross Classical Assistant Principal; Ms. Carmen McFarlin, Reid Ross Classical Assistant Principal.


The Criteria

Schools to Watch are on a sustained trajectory of improvement, and can serve as models for other schools. The Schools to Watch criteria are deeply engrained in the culture of the school.

These criteria may be downloaded. If you'd like more detail, please download the criteria with examples of supporting practices, or feel free to browse the criteria for


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Applying for Recognition

Your school is invited to demonstrate its progress in becoming a high-performing middle grades school by applying for this prestigious national recognition. Schools to Watch are schools that are:

  • Academic Excellence: These schools challenge all students to use their minds well.
  • Developmental Responsiveness: These schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.
  • Social Equity: These schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.
  • Organizational Structures/Supports: These schools share a vision and promote a learning community of practice.

To achieve this level of performance, high-performing schools establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence. They have a sense of purpose that drives every facet of practice and decision-making.

Recognized schools will be featured in state and national publications, and will be visited by educators from around the country looking to see where "things are being done right." Schools will also participate in professional development, and will serve as a model for other schools using the Schools to Watch Criteria to guide school improvement and reform. Schools visited by the selection committee but not selected for Schools to Watch recognition will be offered a half-day follow-up visit to discuss particular strengths and challenges of the school and ways in which NCMLE and DPI can assist the school in its efforts to meet the criteria.


Wondering if your school is ready?

We invite you to visit the Schools to Watch Self-Study and Rating Rubric Tool that will give you a good read on where your school is in terms of meeting the criteria. If it does, contact Dr. Cathy Tomon, our state STW director in order to get a link for your school to go online and take the rubric. The results will automatically be tabulated. All new applicants as well as those applying for re-designation must take this online rubric. The results will become part of the application.


Schools to Watch
STW Re-Designations

Applications are due August 15th.

Re-Designation applications are due on October 15th.


Meet our Schools to Watch and Watch Best Practices

With over 30 Schools to Watch, there are schools around the state you can visit and from which you can learn. Some have well over a thousand students. Others only a couple hundred. We have schools in rural areas, the suburbs, and inner city schools. Our Schools to Watch run the gamut in terms of demographics and diversity. We encourage you to explore our programs and practices.

Broad Creek Middle School


Check out the complete list of designated STW for profiles and best practices. Please feel free to contact or visit them.



Fall Schools to Watch Workshop

Join us for our upcoming Schools to Watch Workshop. You'll learn about the Schools to Watch criteria and how you can use them to have higher performing classrooms and schools. Whether you're interested in applying for Schools to Watch recognition, or just want to learn more about the Schools to Watch criteria and how you can use them. This one-day workshop is for you!