We are deeply honored to have been re-designated a Middle School to Watch (STW) by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Level Reform, the New York State Middle School Association and the New York State Department of Education. Jericho Middle School was first designated a STW in 2009 after an extensive process to review our programs, set goals and participate in a review by a team of evaluators. The process was extremely rigorous as well as rewarding. We learned a great deal about middle level best practice and received helpful guidance from the team of evaluators who looked at every aspect of school. They were here for two days and spoke to parents, students, administrators, central office and Board of Education members. This is what sets the Schools to Watch Program apart from other types of school evaluations; it has a laser like focus on middle school practices and the evaluation itself is carried out by educators who are themselves experts at middle level education.
At last night’s meeting of the board of education, Dr. David Payton from the New York State Middle School Association presented the school with a banner and plaque in recognition of this accomplishment. Jericho Middle School is one of only 25 schools throughout New York State to have earned this designation. It is called Schools to Watch because schools in the program are models for other middle schools. We are often visited by educators from middle schools throughout New York, the United States and from other countries. Last year a principal from India visited, next week a district superintendent from Brazil is coming to see our program and a principal from Australia is coming to see us in May. We are always pleased to show off our excellent programs and the spirit that makes our school special.
Notice that not once in the above description did I write about test scores. Yes, there is a minimum threshold for schools to qualify for STW; but the Schools to Watch designation is based on best practice for middle level instruction, organization and social equity, NOT test scores. You can read more about it at the NYSMSA website. So, in this busy two weeks of testing , there was a subtle irony in the fact that our school had the opportunity to be highlighted for accomplishing its re-designation as a National and New York State School to Watch. I know that we have encouraged our students to do their personal best on these exams, but, at the end of the day, we are more proud of everything we do to meet the unique learning needs of adolescents than we are of their performance on tests!