NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: MAY 17, 2012


North Lincoln Middle School (Lincoln County Schools) recently joined the state's Schools to Watch as it recently received the distinction from the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. North Lincoln Middle was designated a School to Watch because of its emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents' needs and interests, and commitment to providing students equal access to a high-quality education. Its selection brings the total number of North Carolina Schools to Watch to 40.

Schools receiving this prestigious designation have strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability in order to bring about continuous improvement. North Lincoln Middle will be showcased as a model throughout the state and the nation to promote its approaches to instruction, parent and community involvement, and teacher professional development.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, "Academic success in the middle grades sets the stage for high school success and graduation. North Lincoln Middle School educators and students are showing us that good things happen when you set high expectations and then find the support and drive to make it happen."

"Schools to Watch are places where students succeed and the bar of achievement is high. They are schools that have high expectations for every learner, and where staff understand the importance of balancing a rigorous education with one that engages students at this unique age level," said Dr. John Harrison, North Carolina Middle School Association executive director and member of the National Schools to Watch Committee.  

Schools are recognized for a three-year period, at the end of which they must apply for re-designation and demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the National Forum's rigorous criteria. Apple Valley Middle (Henderson County) and Crestdale Middle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg) have earned their first re-designation. Alexander Graham Middle and Mint Hill Middle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg), and Seventy First Classical Middle (Cumberland County) have been re-designated for the second time. Ashe County Middle (Ashe County) and Rugby Middle (Henderson County) – two of the nation's first Schools to Watch recognized nine years ago – are being re-designated for the third time.

Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a program to identify middle grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding a set of strict criteria for excellence. The Forum website,, features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program.

In 2002, North Carolina became one of the first states selected by the National Forum to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to identify high-performing middle grades schools to serve as models of excellence for other schools. Currently, 19 states are involved in this school reform and recognition initiative. Different education organizations have taken the lead in each state. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Middle School Association in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to the state's efforts.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 educators, researchers, national associations and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

For more information, please contact Dr. John Harrison, executive director, NC Middle School Association, at 910.235.3761.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.