Wellington Middle School named a 2012 Trailblazer

Wellington Middle School has been designated a 2012 Colorado Trailblazer “School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

WMS is one of only 14 middle schools in Colorado to earn this designation, and only 279 nationwide.

“We congratulate these schools for creating an outstanding learning environment where students thrive,” said Diane Lauer, state coordinator of the Colorado Trailblazer “Schools to Watch” program, in announcing the honor. “This school clearly recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensuring that every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education.”

When considering which schools rank as Trailblazers, state leaders from the Colorado Association of Middle Level Educators use the criteria of academic excellence, school responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a collective commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

Selection is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria. Finalists are chosen and visited by state teams who observe classrooms, interview administrators, teachers, and parents, and look at student achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work.

Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years must repeat the process in order to be re-designated. Holmes Middle School in Colorado Springs was re-designated for the third time, making it the second school in Colorado to achieve that milestone.

The nation’s “Schools to Watch” will be honored during a gala celebration in Washington, D.C., on June 21. Representatives from each school will have the opportunity to meet with their U.S. Representatives on Capitol Hill and join the national conversation related to accelerating educational reform. Each will be asked to present at various national, regional and state conferences to share their stories of success.

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 criteria. In 2002, the Forum began working with states to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to introduce criteria for high-performance and identify middle grades schools that meet or exceed those criteria.

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