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Press Release

Thursday, April 02, 2009

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Two Florida Schools Inducted Into the Prestigious Schools to Watch Program

~ Exemplary schools serve as national role models for middle-grades education ~

TALLAHASSEE – Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith today announced that two Florida middle schools have been selected into the 2008-09 Schools to Watch® program in recognition of their commitment to academic excellence and student development. The two schools, Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Orlando and Jeaga Middle School in West Palm Beach, will be showcased nationally during the annual Schools to Watch conference, being held June 25 - 27 in Washington, D.C.

“These schools exemplify the outstanding work taking place in our classrooms every day and I’m thrilled that they will serve as role models for other schools across the nation,” said Commissioner Smith. “Their ability to combine effective and dedicated teachers with solid educational strategies is producing results that their students will benefit from throughout their entire education.”

The schools were selected by state leaders for their academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels. In addition, each school has exhibited strong leadership and a strong commitment to assessment and accountability for continuous improvement.

Schools are required to demonstrate how they meet criteria developed by the National Forum, an alliance of educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations, dedicated to improving education in the middle grades. Eligible schools undergo a thorough review and interview process. Schools are re-designated as national Schools to Watch every three years. Winning schools vary in size from several hundred to several thousand students and represent urban, suburban, and rural communities.

Launched a decade ago, Schools to Watch began as a national program that initially identified four middle-grades schools, and has grown to represent 18 states responsible for more than 50 percent of the nation’s middle-schoolers. The team responsible for implementing the program currently consists of representatives from the Florida League of Middle Schools, the Florida Association of School Administrators and other middle-grade leaders throughout the state. For more information on Schools to Watch, visit http://www.schoolstowatch.org/.