NJ Schools To Watch

New Jersey Schools to Watch:® Growing, Learning and Succeeding

The New Jersey Schools to Watch® Program recognizes excellence in middle level education. High-performing schools maximize student growth, support learning for all students, and prepare students for success in high school, college, and careers.

It is no secret that student achievement tends to drop during the middle grades.  While there may be a number of theories on why this occurs, one thing is certain: middle level schools must reassess programs and services to ensure that all students can reach their potential.  The New Jersey Schools to Watch® Program is designed to help schools take a critical look at the needs of middle-level students, defined as students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8. The school does not have to be organized as a middle school in order to participate in this program.

New Jersey became one of 18 states using the Schools to Watch® framework for middle grades improvement.  The research-based program seeks schools that are continuously improving student achievement.  It requires schools to engage in significant reflection about how they operate, the vision for their work, and the outcomes of programs and services.  Schools that meet specific criteria will be identified as New Jersey Schools to Watch® and will become part of a state and national network.  Even schools that are not selected will benefit from the professional development that occurs during the self-assessment process.


STRONG ACADEMICS: High-performing schools are academically excellent.  They challenge all students and offer high-quality classes and expect high-quality results.

RESPECT FOR STUDENT NEEDS AND INTERESTS: Schools to Watch® are sensitive to the unique needs and developmental challenges of early adolescence.  They encourage the success of all students educationally and socially.

EQUAL ACCESS TO A HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION: Schools to Watch® continuously improve teaching and learning and provide students with the support they need to succeed.

SUPPORT FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT: High-performing schools have a sense of purpose that drives every facet of practice and decision-making.  Families, students, and the community partner with school staff to continuously make the school the best it can be.

If you think your school might be a New Jersey School to Watch, take a look at the application and rubric.  For more information on the national program, please go to the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform website