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High-performing middle schools are a critical link in the educational continuum. In an effort to stimulate the sluggish reform efforts of middle schools, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform established the Schools to Watch recognition program. Using responses of school personnel to a statewide survey, this study examined the perceived level of implementation of key tenets of the middle school concept as outlined by This We Believe: Successful Schools for Young Adolescents (National Middle School Association, 2003) in schools designated Kentucky Schools to Watch as compared to nondesignated schools. Additionally, the study reviewed the academic performance of Kentucky's middle schools on the Kentucky Core Content Test to determine whether the schools identified as Kentucky Schools to Watch experienced higher levels of student academic achievement. Results indicated a slightly higher perceived level of implementation of key tenets of the middle school concept in Kentucky's Schools to Watch and revealed overall higher levels of academic achievement as measured by the Kentucky Core Content Test.
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