Twin Valley Middle School, Elverson, PA, been named a PA Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” (PA STW) as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Duquesne University, Edinboro University, Shippensburg University, and the Horace Mann Service Corporation, the Pennsylvania “Schools to Watch” team has announced that Twin Valley Middle School (TVMS) has met the strict PA STW criteria.
Twin Valley Middle School joins 35 other Pennsylvania middle-grades schools recognized previously. Twin Valley Middle School will be recognized at the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education State Conference at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College on February 25, 2018. They will be recognized nationally with all the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington DC at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch conference on June 28-30, 2018.
In responding to notification of the award, Grade 7/8 Principal Dr. Gerald Catagnus noted, “We share the honor of being a “PA School to Watch” with our entire school community. TVMS is an exceptional place for students to ‘live and learn’, and we appreciate the role that our entire staff, district administration, and parents play in making TVMS a great place for students.”
State leaders selected TVMS for its academic excellence, its responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and its commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. In addition TVMSl has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement. Bruce Vosburgh, President of the National Forum, as well as the PA State STW Director, stated, “We congratulate TVMS for being places that do great things for all of their students.”
“We have strengthened several programs, over the last few years”, stated Brenda Boyer, Grade 5/6 Principal. “Our Raider Pride program, the School-Wide Positive Behavior Plan, and beliefs in the Restorative Practices Model have helped our students to grow and learn in a positive, supportive environment. All grade levels of students at TVMS are supported by these important programs, and it makes a difference in the relationships that they build with each other, and school staff. We care a lot about what our students are learning academically, but also care about the health of our school community. If we genuinely care about each other, more learning takes place.”
The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum. TVMS was visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work. TVMS is initially recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated. Unlike the Blue Ribbon recognition program, “Schools to Watch” requires TVMS to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas for continuous improvement; thus the three year re-designation.
Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a web site (http://middlegradesforum.org) that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program. There are now 18 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams, with more than 450 schools recognized across the country.
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.