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MSGA Named A Georgia
Lighthouse School to Watch

Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch Nine middle schools in Georgia submitted an application to be considered for a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch (LSTW). Of the nine schools applying, three were granted a visit by the LSTW committee. MSGA was the only school in Georgia to be designated as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch for the 2012-2013 school year. There are 288 Lighthouse Schools to Watch in 19 states according to the National Forum of Schools to Watch. Currently, there are 17 Lighthouse Schools to Watch in Georgia. Being designated as a Lighthouse School to Watch is one of the most prestigious national honors that a middle school can earn. Marietta Sixth Grade Academy was just redesignated for the second time as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch for the 2019-2023 term and will receive that recognition in June 2019.

Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch Program Description

The Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program is an independent, comprehensive, and long-term middle school improvement program. Georgia launched it in 2002 when the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform selected Georgia as one of the first three states to institute the Schools to Watch program. Now, many other states have established comparable programs in this nationally recognized network of high-performing middle schools. The Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch is part of the National Forum of Schools to Watch Program.
Lighthouse schools are focused on school improvement, and they assume responsibility to be models and mentors. They host visitors and participate in vari­ous professional development activities and conferences in fulfilling this special outreach responsibility.
Lighthouse schools are committed to their own continuous improvement and must reapply and be visited every three years to retain the designation.

The program’s standards are incorpo­rated in four categories of criteria:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Developmental Responsiveness
  • Social Equity
  • Organizational Structures and Processes
Profiles of current Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch are available on the GMSA Web site.
The program also seeks to make all edu­cators, parents, and citizens aware of the characteristics of high-performing middle schools and the special importance of the early adolescence years. The program, sponsored by Georgia Middle School Association (GMSA) and Georgia Alli­ance for Middle Level Excellence (GAMLE), is directed by a 10-member Board of Directors, all veteran middle level educators. GMSA and the following sponsors provide the funds to operate the program: Georgia Public Broad­casting, Promethean, eInstruction, and Texas Instruments. All individuals serving in the program are volunteers.

Selection Process:
Schools who have completed the School Self-Study and Rating Rubric and believe that they are ready request an application.
A School Leadership Team assumes respon­sibility for completing the comprehensive, written application. Applications are due June 30. Applications are assessed individually by board members, who then meet to determine which schools warrant a site visit. Teams of five or more trained middle level educators subsequently conduct two-day site visits to schools selected. When all team reports have been com­pleted, the board determines which schools, if any, can be designated as Georgia Light­house Schools. Some schools that have been visited but do not fully meet all the criteria may be designated as Beacon Schools and are encouraged to reapply. A celebration involving the student body, faculty, staff, and representatives from the community and businesses is held in each school following the school's designation as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. Each school then receives a symbolic ceramic lighthouse, a bronze plaque, a banner, and a distinctive lighthouse lapel pin for each faculty and staff person.