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Sycamore Springs Middle School Designated a Texas School to Watch

February 1, 2021


Sycamore Springs Middle School has been officially designated as a “Texas School to Watch” in a national recognition program of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. Sycamore Springs Middle School joins approximately 50 other campuses across Texas with this distinction and honor.


State leaders selected Sycamore Springs Middle School for its Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity and Organizational Structure and Processes. Sycamore Springs MS also was recognized for strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement. Sycamore Springs MS is in its fourth year as one of two middle schools in DSISD.

“Sycamore Springs Middle School is thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Dripping Springs ISD and the State of Texas as a National School to Watch,” said Sycamore Springs Middle School Principal Dan Diehl. “Since our school was formed in 2017, our staff has taken a whole child approach to preparing students for success in high school and beyond. We are proud to have created a student-centered culture where challenges are met with innovation and every student is advanced toward reaching their full potential. Thank you to our students, staff, parents, DSISD Administration, and DSISD Board of Trustees for the incredible support that has made it possible to achieve this designation.”


Billy Pringle, State Director for Schools to Watch in Texas and TASSP Associate Executive Director for Middle-Level Services, stated, “We congratulate Principal Dan Diehl and his staff, students and parents for being a campus that does great things for all of their students. This school has demonstrated that a high-performing middle school is a place that focuses on academic growth and achievement. Sycamore Springs MS is a place that recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of all students and ensures that every child has access to a challenging high-quality education.”


The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria then were visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students and parents, and looked at 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, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated.


Sycamore Springs Middle School will be recognized at the Virtual Making Middle School Matter Symposium hosted by TASSP on March 1-2, 2021. They will be recognized nationally with all of the other recognized STW schools across the country at the Virtual National Forum Schools to Watch Conference in June of 2021.


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 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a website that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about selection criteria used in the recognition program. There are now 17 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams, with more than 480 schools recognized across the country.