The 50 Best Middle Schools in the U.S.

| TBS Staff

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This ranking of the best middle schools in the United States focuses on grades 7 and 8. By a "middle school" we mean a school that includes those grades. Because regions (states, districts, etc.) set their own standards, in some places grades 7 and 8 may be combined with the high school, while in others they may be found together with elementary grades. Another alternative has been to place 7th and 8th grades in a separate school by themselves or together with 6th grade (these are usually called "middle schools" or less frequently now "junior high schools").

Whatever the combination, the schools in this ranking have both 7th and 8th grade housed together within the same building (which is nearly always the case). Where 7th and 8th graders were housed with other grades, achievement scores for the 7th and 8th graders were evaluated individually, rather than for the school as a whole. The schools in this ranking have found a way to provide 7th and 8th graders with a rich school experience that prepares them superbly well for high school, college, and life.

Recent research indicates that it is beneficial to put 7th and 8th graders together with the elementary grades, creating a single school for K through 8. There are significant studies which show that junior high/middle school students perform better when educated in a K through 8 setting. However, in large urban or suburban areas this option may create space, staffing, and safety issues. For this reason, it is not always feasible to make one school for nine grades.


For this study, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results in science, math, and reading for 8th graders were used as a principal (but not the sole) basis for comparison of schools. The NAEP administers the same test nationally so that one standard is applied to each student no matter which state they live in.

In the case of other common standardized test assessments, each state creates and administers its own tests, which makes cross-state comparisons difficult. That is the reason why we emphasize the NAEP. However, state assessment scores were also examined, where available, and weighed together with the NAEP scores.

Finally, other factors such as awards and rankings and geographical diversity were also taken into account.

Readers also like: The 50 Best American Public Elementary Schools in the U.S. and The 50 Best Public High Schools in the U.S.

The 50 Best Schools for Grades 7 and 8 in the U.S.

1. Community Day Charter School

Community Day Charter School(Lawrence, MA)

Community Day Charter was founded in 1995 and was one of the first charter schools in Massachusetts. It began with grades K--3 and added a grade every year thereafter until it had all grades K--8.

Teachers work together in teams to identify areas of weakness and formulate action plans for students who are not succeeding as well as they should. All students are given the opportunity to succeed with school support and the belief that all students are capable of meeting the demands of challenging standards.

An extended day and extended year is offered to students who wish to develop their skills or participate in extracurricular activities.

Awards and Rankings:

2. Stowe Middle School

Stowe Middle School(Stowe, VT)

Stowe Middle School is a school for grades 6--8. The program at Stowe is rigorous, but the school recognizes the importance of more than just academics. All students are required to perform four hours of community service and many perform more service than is required. Personalized classes are provided so that students can build relationships with other students, as well as staff and faculty.

An online free library is provided to all students in addition to the regular library, which has a website that assists students in finding books that they will enjoy and to keep them updated on what is new and what is popular. The school also prepares a newsletter that gives suggestions to parents on things they can do to help their children to be successful both socially and academically.

Each grade in middle school is separated into teams so that students on the same team share the same teachers. Likewise, teachers on a team share the same students. There is a math, social studies, and science teacher for each team, and each teacher also teaches language arts across the curriculum.

Electives include life skills, band, choir, art, Technology Design Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences Education (FACS). A theater group performs plays and musicals and the school hosts informative seminars on drug awareness and prevention tips for parents on subjects like Abduction and Harm.

Friday wellness classes allow students to participate in snowboarding, snowshoeing, skiing, swimming, and skating. Team sports include field hockey, soccer, track, and cross country skiing.

Awards and Rankings:

3. Minnesota Math and Science Academy

Minnesota Math and Science Academy(Woodbury, MN)

Grades 6--12 are taught at the Minnesota Math and Science Academy, a charter school offering an intensive program in math and science, as well as courses in the arts, humanities, and foreign languages.

Students are expected to pursue their studies diligently, and although the school is tuition-free, students do have to apply to be accepted and space is limited.

If there are more applications than openings, a lottery is held. Those not acquiring a place can be put on a waiting list. Students and parents are encouraged to volunteer at the school.

Extracurricular activities include Nordic skiing, Clay Target League (students must have a Firearms Safety Certificate), FIRST Robotics, and Lego Robotics, as well as other athletic, artistic, and academic activities.

Awards and Rankings:

4. Lincoln Akerman School

Lincoln Akerman School(Hampton Falls, NH)

Grades K--8 are taught at Lincoln Akerman School, with an enrollment of 160 students in all grades 1 through 8.

All students attend art classes at least once a week and build an art portfolio which they take with them when they graduate from the 8th grade. All middle school students also take health classes in which they learn about nutrition, along with other age-appropriate topics, to build a foundation in health that will serve them throughout their lives.

Middle school physical education has an emphasis on fun and participation, with games such as speedball, pilo polo, spyball, team hand ball, and other sports fundamental to physical development.

The guidance curriculum for grades 6--8 emphasizes life skills, dealing with bullying and harassment, respect, advocating for others as well as oneself, stress management, and conflict resolution, among other age-appropriate topics. The content is based on the SAU #21 Guidance/Life Skills Curriculum.

Awards and Rankings:

5. Challenge Magnet School-Cherry Creek School District No. 5

Challenge Magnet School(Denver, CO)

A K--8 school, the Challenge School is one of the magnet schools belonging to the celebrated Cherry Creek School District No. 5, located in the greater Denver area.

Students have some classes (called Connections classes) that are based on needs and not on age or grade. Multi-age groups appear in Connections classes, Mini-courses, and immersion classes. Mini-courses are for enrichment and allow students to pursue their personal interests, though sometimes students may also be assigned to Mini-courses for remediation. In Connections classes, students are graded on the pass/fail system, but in Mini-courses, students in grades 3 through 8 receive a letter grade that counts towards the student's GPA. Courses last about six weeks and meet during the last period of the day.

Students must apply to attend the Challenge School and all students in grades 5 through 8 are required to put in hours of community service, which must be completed before the end of the second trimester. All 7th and 8th graders must also participate in a shadowing exercise (one per year) with a professional at the Challenge school or a professional at the high school the student plans to attend. Shadowing experiences allow students to have contact with a professional in an area of interest the student shares to clarify questions, gather information, and experience the professional side of the subject.

Awards and Rankings:

6. Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva

Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva(Edison, NJ)

When it comes to performance in science, math, and reading, New Jersey---with its many fine public and private schools---consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally. Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (RPRY) is one of the reasons why. It is a K--8 Orthodox Jewish private school which teaches Judaism and Jewish history, but also follows the New Jersey guidelines for academics.

Unlike some private schools which only cater to above-average students, RPRY has students at all learning levels. Accordingly, they have partnered with to train and prepare teachers to teach students of all learning types, from remedial to advanced.

The middle school has extracurricular programs for students with religious, social, academic, and athletic interests, preparing students for success in life. Additionally RPRY has on-line courses for distance learning.

Awards and Rankings:

7. North Star Middle School

North Star Middle School(Kirkland, WA)

North Star Middle School serves students in grades 7--9. It is a "choice" school, one of 13 in the Lake Washington School District. Choice schools and programs are optional schooling alternatives and are often housed within an existing school. Class sizes are smaller and students are placed in programs based upon skill level rather than age and grade. Students experience education through a variety of projects and learning tools, including home-school partnerships, vocational programs, and theme-based learning.

Except for math, North Star students choose their courses to fulfill the required number of credits for each discipline, so that students are taking an in-depth course on something of interest to them instead of a survey course which lightly touches on a broad range of topics. It is much like a college curriculum.

Some examples of courses offered are Forensic Science, Genetics, Treehouse of Horror (horror literature), and Bring Out Your Dead (a history of infectious diseases.)

Awards and Rankings:

8. Middlesex Middle School

Middlesex Middle School(Darien, CT)

Middlesex Middle School serves grades 6 through 8. Students follow a typical curriculum, but in addition have an orchestra class, as well as band and choir. Students may try out for various musical ensemble groups, including a jazz ensemble and a string ensemble.

To encourage students' critical thinking skills, an IDEA (Interesting Dimensions that Extend Abilities) course is taken by each grade. These classes, which are for intellectually gifted students and use the seminar approach, meet during lunch period twice a week. Examples of subjects studied include the phenomenon of time (7th graders) and the works of philosophers such as Plato and Machiavelli (8th graders).

Students study keyboarding, computer skills, and technology classes; they are also required to take a physical education class. Additionally, students in 7th and 8th grade take a Family Studies course focusing on healthy living.

Awards and Rankings:

9. Harmon Middle School

Harmon Middle School(Aurora, OH)

Harmon Middle School serves 705 students in grades 6 though 8. The Harmon athletic department offers participation in 20 sports plus cheerleading.

Harmon has a P.R.I.D.E. program for students to evaluate their effort and citizenship. These forms are due two weeks after report cards are distributed. Students must get verification of one hour of community service, volunteering to help a faculty member, and completing all assignments, as well as other personal academic achievements.

The Harmon School District has been rated by the State Board of Education as a district of excellence for the past 12 years.

Awards and Rankings:

10. Falmouth Middle School

Falmouth Middle School(Falmouth, ME)

Falmouth Middle School is a public school serving almost 700 5th through 8th graders.

Falmouth offers a curriculum in social studies, world languages, English/language arts, and math. Additionally, students may take health, a variety of music classes, art, and physical education.

Swimming, lacrosse, hockey, football, and volleyball are just some of the team sports in which students can participate in athletics. For after-school fun, students can sign up for sledding, snow shoeing, Nordic skiing, snow sculpture, ping pong, and relay races, among other activities.

Awards and Rankings:

11. Sheridan Junior High School

Sheirdan Junior High School(Sheridan, WY)

Sheridan Junior High is a grade 6 through 8 public school that offers a rich curriculum and many activities for its students.

Those activities include Kid Witness News, National Junior Honor Society, Spelling and Geography Bees, intramural sports, weight lifting, academic teams, band, orchestra, and choir, among others.

Several athletic pursuits are provided for students, including Cross Country, volleyball, football, wrestling, basketball, and track.

Awards and Rankings:

12. Folly Quarter Middle School

Folly Quarter Middle School(Ellicott City, MD)

Folly Quarter Middle School (FQMS) is located west of Baltimore in affluent Howard County, and serves students in grades 6, 7, and 8. In addition to the academic curriculum, there is a gifted and talented program, an arts program, and world languages.

Each class participates in a community project to reinforce academic course objectives, but also to instill a sense of community service in the students. For example, 8th graders have researched cancer and raised $6,000 for St. Jude's Hospital. The goal is to achieve curricular objectives through service-learning and to develop a sense of responsibility to one's community.

FQMS offers after-school programs for student involvement and enrichment. These programs range from art to cheerleading, and from homework help to service organizations. A weekly newsletter keeps parents and students informed about what is happening at the schools in the district, as well as in the wider community.

Awards and Rankings:

13. William B. Travis Academy

William B. Travis Academy(Dallas, TX)

William B. Travis Academy (WBTA) is a magnet school within the Dallas Independent School District serving grades 6 through 8. Admission is based on academic achievement. Space in the magnet school is limited and highly coveted.

The students, who are required to wear uniforms, have a wide range of 10-week-long, after-school programs to choose from every semester, including sports, academic competitions, and academic/enrichment classes.

In addition to the TEA academic curriculum, WBTA offers physical education, band, drama, technology, orchestra, and art.

Awards and Rankings:

14. Fort Couch Middle School

Fort Couch Middle School(Upper St. Clair, PA)

Fort Couch Middle School serves grades 7 and 8 with a skills-and-content curriculum, in which students are placed on academic teams with inclusion and gifted programs.

Teachers are given 100 minutes of common planning time for interdisciplinary activities. A representative of the Enrichment Resource Team and a guidance counselor attend at least one of these meetings each week. Students have a bi-weekly advisor time with a teacher, and the curriculum is supported by an expressive arts team, the foreign languages department, and extracurricular activities.

The language arts department has advanced and regular instruction. The math curriculum utilizes pre- and post-tests, and students who need acceleration can be placed in a class based upon skill, not age or grade.

Electives in the expressive arts include cabinetry, theater, rhythmic movement, architecture, and healthy cooking. French, Spanish, and German are offered to every middle school student. Students also work in large and small groups to foster and support their knowledge of the democratic principles taught in social studies.

Suggestions for expansion or change in curriculum may come from any member of the community: parents, students, teachers, concerned residents, or administrators. Curriculum leaders for each academic subject at each school level---along with department chairpersons from each school level---are full-time teachers who receive extra compensation and administrator status for curriculum development, so that all recommendations for change are studied and reviewed before a decision is made. All approved recommendations are then reviewed by the school board.

Awards and Rankings:

15. Hobson School

Hobson School(Hobson, MT)

Also known as Hobson 7--8, this middle school has earned distinction for its outstanding state assessment scores, being named the third-best middle school in the entire western region of the country.

Boasting a strong curriculum, students also have opportunities to participate in music and fine arts programs, vocational programs, and clubs such as Future Farmers of America, Business Professionals of America, and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. Athletics include football, volleyball and cross country.

On at least one day a year, the entire school district goes on a ski/snowboarding trip together. The community plays a vital role in Hobson School and provides two scholarships for students each year: the Arnold Haack Community Scholarship and the Hobson Alumni/Extravaganza scholarship.

Students in the district won several awards at the BPA 2013 Regional Conference.

Awards and Rankings:

16. Prairie Star Middle School

Prairie Star Middle School(Leawood, KS)

Prairie Star Middle School was one of only 12 middle schools to receive the Governor's Achievement Award for high standardized achievement scores on math and reading for the 2010 school year. In addition to achieving the Standard of Excellence in both reading and math and scoring in the top 5% of schools in both reading and math, the school had to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and have a good attendance record.

Prairie Star serves students in grades 6 through 8, with approximately 716 students in all. The school encourages public service, but unlike so many other schools, does not require it. It is a matter of school pride that individually---and as a school---the students and staff pull together to work for the betterment of the families in their community.

Every school cares about the well-being of its students, but Prairie Star devotes part of its website to help parents recognize signs of trouble in their children, with videos added by students addressing issues important to them. There are links to support groups, hotlines, and evaluation forms. The website in general is very informative---it is one of the best middle school websites in the country.

Awards and Rankings:

17. McKinley Classical Junior Academy Middle School

McKinley Classical Junior Academy Middle School(St. Louis, MO)

McKinley Classical Junior Academy (CJA) Middle School is a magnet school with 6th through 8th graders. The school's colors and mascot are meant to evoke President William McKinley and his supporters.

During the summer, 30 McKinley CJA students attend the Middle School Summer Pharmacy Academy at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, a program created to encourage students pursuing careers in the sciences and health. Students participating in this program conduct experiments and tour the Missouri Botanical Gardens, as well as Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

McKinley partners with the community through programs like the Gifted Resource Council (GRC), which provides summer academies, learning labs, and academic competitions. GRC is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the resources of a community together with schools and parents to help students achieve their potential.

Awards and Rankings:

18. Lakeland Junior High School

Lakeland Junior High School(Rathdrum, ID)

The state of Idaho is moving away from the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) form of rating schools and moving to a five-star system. In 2011--12, Lakeland Junior High was a four-star school that did not meet AYP and had earned 82 out of 100 points in the state evaluation system. In one year, Lakeland raised its star rating to five stars and 92 points earned.

Lakeland uses an individualized tutoring program called Study Island. Partnering with the Northwest Evaluation Association, Study Island uses a student Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) to create an individualized learning program. Students have 24/7 access to their individualized program through their mobile devices.

Lakeland serves 7th and 8th graders. In addition to core academic classes, students may choose from electives that include band, culinary arts, industrial technology, choir, robotics, lifetime activities, outdoor activities, writing, and art. Sports programs offered include volleyball, cross country and track, wrestling, basketball, and Rathdrum Park and Rec Football.

Awards and Rankings:

19. South Heart School

South Heart School(South Heart, ND)

South Heart School serves students in grades 7 through 12 and boasts one teacher for every nine students. The average in North Dakota is 11 students per teacher. The school, which is in a rural setting, has a total enrollment of approximately 104 students. Athletics include basketball, golf, and football. The athletic competition is for grades 5 though 12 and is a co-op, including schools in three counties.

Activities for students include Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), athletics, drama, Future Farmers of American (FFA), student council, and yearbook.

C-PASS (Caring Parents Assisting Student Success) is a group of parent volunteers who meet five times a year to discuss ways in which they can assist the school to enrich the student learning environment. The group also raises money to help pay for activities for students.

Awards and Rankings:

20. Our Redeemer Lutheran School

Soderbeck Classroom 1(Wauwatosa, WI)

Our Redeemer Lutheran School (ORLS) serves children in grades 3k through 8 in and around the Milwaukee area. Students come from 16 communities and 32 zip codes. In addition to a strong academic curriculum (which also includes Spanish, physical education, band, and choir), ORLS offers basketball, volleyball, cross country, and track.

ORLS is a fully accredited school through the National Lutheran Accreditation Program. After-school programs include chess, art, science, and reading clubs. On-site child care is provided and parents are strongly encouraged to participate in their children's school.

A discount is offered for each additional tuition child attending the school and parents may pay in one payment or choose a monthly payment plan.

Awards and Rankings:

21. Mountain Ridge Junior High School

Mountain Ridge Junior High School(Highland, UT)

Mountain Ridge Junior High serves 7th through 9th graders and has a strong academic program, which includes an Accelerated Learning Lab for math for which students must qualify with written tests.

The program also includes English, French, Spanish, American Sign Language, mythology, history, social studies, clothing and child care, health, science, technology, art and ceramics, keyboarding, and physical education. Students also have performance opportunities through a dance company, dramatic and musical theater companies, a football team, an orchestra, and a choir, among other extracurricular and curricular pursuits.

With a dedicated staff of 50 teachers, the school instructs more than 1400 students.

Awards and Rankings:

22. Roncalli Junior/Senior High School

Roncalli Junior/Senior High School(Aberdeen, SD)

Founded in 1964, today Roncalli Junior/Senior High School serves students in grades 7 through 12. With approximately 70 teachers and staff, enrollment has reached 600. The school is accredited by the State of South Dakota and the North Central Association.

Seventh and 8th graders take the Dakota STEP test on which 7th grade students scored 91% in math and 91% in reading. Eight grade students scored 87% in math and 92.5% in reading. All students must take math, science, fine arts, humanities, social science and Economics/Personal Finance, English, physical education, health, world languages, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Capstone experience/service learning, religion, and five and one half hours in electives.

For extracurricular activities the school offers athletics, cheerleading, dance team, oral interpretation, production and performance of a one-act play and a spring play, concert band, concert choir, flag corps, marching band, pep band, honor society, student council, dances, and various clubs, including Chess Club.

Awards and Rankings:

23. Short Pump Middle School

Short Pump Middle School(Glen Allen, VA)

Short Pump Middle School serves students from 6th through 8th grade in Henrico Country, Virginia, outside Richmond.

The school opened in 1991 and operates on a modified block schedule. Students can begin taking courses for high school credit in 7th and 8th grade.

Awards and Rankings:

24. Archimedean Middle Conservatory

Archimedean Middle Conservatory(Miami, FL)

Archimedean Middle Conservatory is a charter school within the Miami-Dade public school system. Established in 2005, the school serves children in grades 6 through 8.

Students are required to learn Modern Greek, and two classes per day are actually taught in the Greek language. Language arts, science, social studies, philosophy, and mathematics are taught entirely in English.

Archimedean middle school students ranked 3rd in the state on the state assessment (the FCAT). Seventh and 8th graders ranked first in the district in math and second in reading. Eighth graders ranked first in the district in writing and second in science.

Awards and Rankings:

25. Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies

Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies(Matairie, LA)

Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies (HAAS), which serves approximately 700 students in grades 6 through 12, has an impressive history of academic achievement.

HAAS offers regular core classes and honors classes. Electives include gardening, theater, playwriting and creative writing, cooking, chess, robotics, and yoga, among others. Students may also take band, choir, piano, and/or a "talented music" class.

Students may compete in baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, track, and volleyball. There are also clubs for students interested in other pursuits such as chess, bowling, dance, engineering, Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), Mock Trial Team, orchestra, speech and debate, a writer's club, and a World War II Quiz bowl, among others.

Awards and Rankings:

26. Creekside Middle School

Creekside Middle School(Carmel, IN)

Creekside Middle School serves grades 6 through 8 and has a little over 1400 students. The students produce their own newsletter/newspaper, writing the articles, taking and drawing the pictures, and producing the layout. It is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in journalism and their work is of near-professional quality.

Each grade has its own website. Aside from regular academic classes (which offer honors level courses in English and math), all students take world languages, physical fitness, and technology courses. Electives include a variety of business classes from business foundations to international business internship, choir, band, orchestra, and a variety of art classes, including drawing & painting and ceramics & sculpture.

A wide variety of clubs exist so that all students can find something of interest.

Awards and Rankings:

27. Raleigh Hills Elementary School

Raleigh Hills Elementary School(Portland, OR)

Raleigh Hills Elementary School is a K through 8 school in the Beaverton School District in Portland, Oregon.

Raleigh Hills started out as a K through 8 school, but then left that format in 1961; however, in 2007 it returned to being a K--8 school, and has led the way in the state with a strong academic performance that was just shy of perfect.

In addition to the core courses, students may take band or choir, physical education, research and technology, and Spanish. Students are encouraged to participate in a spring musical, which integrates drama, music, and P.E.

Also, each year, every grade is given the opportunity for an overnight field trip for team-building exercises.

Awards and Rankings:

28. Twin Groves Middle School

Twin Groves Middle School(Buffalo Grove, IL)

Twin Groves serves students in grades 6 though 8.

In addition to the regular curriculum, students may participate in track and field, volleyball, wrestling, the Scholastic Bowl, 8th Grade Math Club, 7th Grade Math Club, the fall play, after-school sports every other week, Chess Club, History Fair, the Lego Club, Future Filmmakers, the Science Fair, the Yearbook Club, jewelry making, a spring musical, and the ski club, among others.

Electives include band, choir, symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, and band.

Awards and Rankings:

29. SCAPA at Bluegrass

SCAPA at Bluegrass(Lexington, KY)

The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) at Bluegrass is a middle school that serves grades 4 through 8. It is a performing arts school, and although it is a public school, students must have a special talent or interest in the performing arts to be accepted into the school.

Students accepted into SCAPA are then given instruction in visual arts, band, strings, voice, piano, ballet, contemporary dance, drama, and creative writing, in addition to the state developed academic curriculum.

Students not only score well on state assessment tests, but have been successful in state competitions in speech, band, choir, orchestra, drama, writing, piano, and dance. Electives are available in art, drama, broadcast media, choir, band, Spanish, physical education, reading, and a special art class called Studio8Art, which provides a more in-depth study of drawing, painting, graphic design, and sculpture.

Awards and Rankings:

30. Brentwood Middle School

Brentwood Middle School(Brentwood, TN)

Brentwood Middle School serves grades 6 through 8 and---in addition to the core curriculum---8th grade students may receive high school credit in Algebra I, Geometry, Spanish I, German, Latin, and French. All 8th grade students have to take basic computer application skills test.

Brentwood teachers work in academic teams so that all students on a team have the same academic teachers and those teachers share the same group of students with the colleagues on their team.

Students may participate in the Model UN, the Youth Legislature, the Geography Bee, and the Robotics team. There are honors classes in both math and English.

Extracurricular activities include the Battle of the Books, Chess Club, Destination Imagination, Drama, Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), Forensics, Green Team, Junior American Citizens Club, Literary Magazine, math teams, pep band, ping pong, and Science Olympiad, among others.

Awards and Rankings:

31. Barrington Middle School

Barrington Middle School(Barrington, RI)

Barrington Middle Schools bees up its academic program by providing online resources for home learning during the summer break with an online virtual math summer program and summer reading assignments.

The school serves almost 800 students in grades 6 through 8. The middle school has dances, sports night, plays, math clubs, basketball, volleyball and Track & Field as extra curricular activities.

Barrington students (pictured above right) also provide community service for the public service organization, Citizens for Conservation.

Awards and Rankings:

32. Birmingham Covington Districtwide 3--8 School

Birmington Covington Districtwide 3--8 School(Bloomfield Hills, MI)

Birmingham Covington Districtwide 3--8 School (known as BCS) is a public magnet school serving more than six hundred students in grades 3 through 8 throughout the Birmingham Public School District.

Space in the school is limited. Those who apply are placed in an enrollment lottery and, once enrolled, students join one of three teams. Middle school students join the 7/8 team and have many opportunities available to them not generally offered in public school, such as the Engineering Technology Program and the project-based Thinkering Studio, where students collaborate to use technology and other media to create projects together.

For those who do not find a place at BCS, there is a waiting list. BCS students benefit from an advanced curriculum that teaches literacy and technology across the curriculum.

Awards and Rankings:

33. NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies

NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies(New York, NY)

Although a public school serving almost 600 students in grades 6 through 8, the NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies is a "screened school," meaning that the school may set its own admission requirements. Admission to NYC Lab Middle School requires a test covering literacy (writing and comprehension), math, and a collaborative group exercise. In addition to the test results, the administration considers absences, tardies, and teacher comments. Siblings are not given special consideration.

An extended day program is provided for students who scored a 1 on either of the state tests, which is a state requirement, but NYC Lab Middle School places students in the classes even if they have a 2.

Several sports are offered, but students may only choose one sport per season. After school there is also the School Yearbook club, the Middle Math Team, a drama program, a Stock Market Team, a writer's group, MORE Art, and the debate team, among others.

Awards and Rankings:

34. Weddington Middle School

Weddington Middle School(Matthews, NC)

With almost 1100 students, Weddington Middle School serves grades 6 through 8 and has split twice to decrease the enrollment rate due to a population spike in suburban Union County south of Charlotte.

The school was founded in 1998 and reached a peak enrollment of 1700 students, as a result of which the school split in 2006 and then split again in 2008. There are now three middle schools to serve the students of the area. In view of all the upheaval, it is amazing that Weddington has not only managed to stay true to its roots and quality of service, but continued to improve. It has been a School of Excellence since the doors were first opened.

Clubs offered for student enrichment include Celebrating the World, Dancing around the Globe, fantasy book club, math games, pen pals, UFO club (flight engineering), debate, textiles, crafts and tradition, Inquiring Minds of Science, journalism, and Inventions Unwrapped, as well as many others.

Awards and Rankings:

35. Dover Air Force Base Middle School

Dover AFB Middle School(Dover, DE)

Dover AFB Middle School is a a 6 through 8 school with approximately 200 students. In addition to standard academics required by the state, the school offers football, field hockey, basketball, soccer, softball, and track and field.

Because these students are primarily the children of active military personnel, the school provides a club called Families Dealing with Separation or Deployment (FDSD). This program offers support for students who have one or more parents who are or have been or will be deployed away from home as part of their military service. The club meets during the school day every other Wednesday and has guest speakers on topics relevant to these students, as well as fun, team-building activities such as robotics. The program is aided by the Family Readiness Center from Dover A.F.B.

A 4-H program is open to any student of the district between the ages of 5 and 18.

Awards and Rankings:

36. St. Patrick's Catholic School

SONY DSC(Elkhorn, NE)

St. Patrick's Catholic School (known as "St. Pat's") opened in 2000 with 80 students and has grown to an enrollment today of more than 800 students in grades Preschool through 8.

St. Pat's was initially awarded AdvancED Accreditation from the Nebraska Department of Education in 2009. The accreditation, which is reviewed every five years, was renewed in 2014. AdvancED Accreditation is a national, voluntary quality assurance program designed to distinguish schools adhering to high educational standards. The AdvancED team saw St. Patrick's as continuing its ascent to excellence with its focused attention on individual students and a family atmosphere fostering young minds.

In addition to providing an exemplary academic program, St. Pat's offers soccer, baseball, softball, track, cheerleading, volleyball, track and field, basketball, and football.

Four teams of students from St. Pat's attended the 2012 Robotics Program World Competition in California. One team placed third in the preliminary round, while another team was presented with the AMAZE award for the Opportunity Division. In 2013, the success of the program continued with all four teams advancing to world championship competition.

Along with sports and science, extracurricular opportunities are provided with a chess club, walking club, art club, academic club, rosary club, Spanish club, and Scouts. All of the clubs are either teacher- or parent-led, and allow the children to foster their many talents.

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37. Gilbert Middle School

Gilbert Middle School(Gilbert, IA)

With a little over 300 students in grades 5 through 8, Gilbert Middle School is part of the Gilbert Community School District, located just north of Ames, Iowa. The school was established in 2006.

In addition to the core academic classes, students are offered the opportunity to take choir, band, Spanish, family and consumer science, technology, agriculture, industrial technology, and art.

Middle School students at Gilbert are given a wide variety of activities to supplement the regular academic curriculum. Eight grade students participate in a job shadowing program where they can shadow a professional to see real-world applications in areas of business.

As part of a financial literacy unit, students visit a bank. To assist students in learning, the school obtained 320 computers in January of 2014.

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38. Riverwatch Middle School

Riverwatch Middle School(Suwanee, GA)

Riverwatch Middle School serves an enrollment of over 1000 students in grades 6 through 8. The school was established in 2003 and is located on the shores of the Chattahoochee River in Forsyth County, near Lake Lanier north of Atlanta.

Riverwatch offers a common core curriculum, while student learning is augmented by athletics and after school activities such as dance club, chess club, guitar club, FCA, yearbook, chorus, band, math club, 5-K Club, oratorical contest club, art club, and robotics team, as well as clubs that promote and foster interest in science such as Science Olympiad and Odyssey of the Mind.

Students are provided with the best tools technology has to offer, including electronic whiteboards, desktop computers, projectors, digital cameras, video cameras, and wireless student notebooks.

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39. Nikiski Middle/High School

Nikiski Middle/High School(Nikiski, AK)

Nikiski Middle/High School serves approximately 400 students from 6th through 12th grade on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

In addition to the regular curriculum for middle school students, electives include band and choir, drama, and art. Many sports are also available, including cross country running, cross country skiing, soccer, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.

Extracurricular activities besides sports include Mind-A-Mazes practical science competitions in which students are given a challenge to solve, which may anything from making the perfect paper airplane to harnessing wind energy. Once at the competition with their projects, teams are also given a spontaneous challenge to solve on the spot. At the 2013 competition, the Nikiski 8th grade team won first place in the Spontaneous Problem Challenge, as well as first place overall for the intermediate 7--12 Division. The 7th grade team also won the Judges Choice Award.

Student work from all grades is displayed on an art blog. Students earn an academic letter by maintaining a 3.5 GPA or higher for two consecutive semesters. Those earning letters are honored at a School Academic Excellence Award Ceremony. Honorees have their names published on the website.

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40. Pea Ridge Middle School

Pea Ridge Middle School(Pea Ridge, AR)

Pea Ridge Middle School serves 400+ students in grades 6 through 8. The school is renowned for its high test scores on state assessments.

Pea Ridge students may participate in Future Business Leaders of America, band, choi,r and athletics, including baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, track and field, cheerleading, softball, and volleyball.

The school district maintains a Facebook page where pictures of students participating in different activities are displayed.

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41. Self Development Preparatory School

Self Development Preparatory School(Mesa, AZ)

Self Development Preparatory School is the middle school portion of Self Development Charter School (SDCS), a publicly funded, accelerated school with limited enrollment of less than 500 serving grades K--8. Students are accepted into the school on a first come, first served basis, although siblings of current enrollees are given preference.

SDCS takes suggestions from stakeholders seriously and all students are invited and challenged to improve the curriculum. At the end of the 2012--2013 school year, a fourth grade student introduced his pilot program to bring more unity and closeness between older and younger students to an auditorium of parents. The program was a success and his plan was implemented as part of the curriculum, showing the students that everyone can participate in making the school culture and curriculum better.

Students in the Preparatory School take an advanced curriculum of the core courses, Latin, literature, grammar and writing, world geography, foreign languages, and fine arts electives. Students who advance quickly in math can be enrolled in Algebra II by the 8th grade.

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42. Phillips Preparatory School

Phillips Preparatory School(Mobile, AL)

Phillips Preparatory School is a publicly funded, magnet middle school serving students in grades 6 through 9 with an enrollment of approximately 700 students.

In addition to the core classes, students may take classes in band, choir, and drama. Students may also participate in basketball, track, cheerleading, football, track, and volleyball.

Students are offered participation in various clubs such as FCA, German club, history club, journalism, Scholars Bowl, Science Olympiad, speech, and video production, to name a few.

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43. KIPP Reach College Preparatory

KIPP Reach College Preparatory(Oklahoma City, OK)

KIPP Reach College Preparatory is a free, open enrollment, public middle school serving grades 5 through 8 located in Oklahoma City. Students are accepted in spite of a poor school record, whether in academics or behavior.

The school is part of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) system of over 140 public charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, altogether serving some 50,000 students, the vast majority from low-income families.

Founded in 2002, KIPP has made significant strides in turning students around to help them realize their potential and enrich their learning, paving the way for a more productive and successful future. Over 85% of KIPP graduates go on to college.

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44. Buist Academy for Advanced Studies

Buist Academy for Advanced Studies(Charleston, SC)

Buist Academy for Advanced Studies is a K--8, county-wide, International Baccalaureate (IB) magnet school serving almost 500 students. Buist became an authorized Primary Years Programme IB World School in February 2006 and also is a certified Middle Year Programme since September 2010.

The IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) works with schools, governments, and other organizations to develop challenging programs so that children around the world will be encouraged to achieve their potential and become lifelong learners.

Buist students begin French or Spanish in kindergarten and continue studying that language until graduation. The rest of the curriculum is divided into themes to foster critical thinking skills in humanities, the sciences, mathematics, the Arts, technology and physical education.

After-school activities include karate, dance, guitar, and chess, among others. Sports are operated through local recreation departments.

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45. Northwest Magnet Middle School

Northwest Magnet Middle School(Jackson, MS)

Northwest Magnet Middle School (NWMMS) is a public magnet school for grades 6 through 8 and is an International Baccalaureate Middle Year Program School, fully authorized by the IBO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

This designation came after successful completion of a three-year implementation period and a two-day site review and evaluation from officials from the IBO headquarters. There are 994 IBO member schools in 108 countries, with 400 of them (both public and private) are in North America and the Caribbean.

The IB program gives students an advanced, interdisciplinary curriculum with a commitment to community service, all of which gives the student an advantage when preparing for college. To enter the IB program, a student must have an 85 or higher GPA (on a scale of 100), obtain a positive teacher recommendation, and score proficient or advanced in math and language arts on the state assessment.

NWMMS students study music (strings, choir, or band), art, and a foreign language, in addition to the core courses and an elective.

Several fairs are held throughout the year, including science fair, cultural fair, reading fair, and book fair. Other activities include field trips, male mentoring, competitions, and community service projects.

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46. Holloman Middle School

Holloman Middle School(Holloman AFB, NM)

Holloman Middle School, with an enrollment of almost 200 students, serves students in grades 6 through 8 living on Holloman Air Force Base, a census-designated place located about six miles southwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

As a school that educates the children of active military personnel, Holloman faces challenges unique to military communities where one or more the parents can be deployed to war zones, an uncertainty which can be very hard on children.

As part of the curriculum, Holloman has a program called PRIDE (perseverance, respect, integrity, determination, excellence) that brings in speakers to talk to students once a month. Students who display the characteristics of PRIDE are honored with a metal coin with the school logo on one side and the words "Making a Difference" engraved on the other. Students are also encouraged to "pay it forward" by contributing time and energy in community and humanitarian service.

Holloman provides school-wide wireless access, laptops for each student, robotics, and distance learning classes. Classroom learning is augmented with field trips and competitions, both locally and regionally.

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47. Voyager Public Charter School

Voyager Public Charter School(Honolulu, HI)

Voyager Public Charter School is a K through 8 public charter school that serves approximately 240 students in the city of Honolulu and throughout the island of Oahu.

The philosophy behind the school's approach is to make students responsible for their own learning by setting goals for themselves and learning through hands-on projects, while limiting paper/pencil tests and book learning.

After administering formal and informal assessments, students are placed on multi-age, multi-ability teams which provide opportunities for cooperative learning and cross-age tutoring. Student learning is augmented by required field trips. Parents are encouraged and expected to participate in their child's learning.

The arts are a key component of learning at Voyager. Students have weekly art classes with a master's-trained art teacher, and artwork is incorporated into other subjects across the curriculum. Additionally, music, dance, and drama are part of the curriculum, exposing students to great composers and musicians.

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48. Elkhorn Elementary School

Elkhorn Elementary School(Stockton, CA)

Elkhorn Elementary School is a member of the Lodi Unified School District in San Joaquin County, California. The school serves almost 300 students in grades 4 through 8.

There are activities geared toward both elementary and middle school. Middle school students participated in the science competition known as the Middle School Science Olympiad in the 2013--14 school year, earning gold medals in Anatomy, Crime Busters, Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Experimental Design, Heredity, Meteorology, Road Scholar, Shock Value, Simple Machine,s and Water Quality, as well as silver and bronze medals in a variety of subjects.

The district provides resources for every grade and school in the district, so that students have a wide variety of learning tools. Students and teachers can communicate and collaborate on line through the website, with email, exchange of documents, tutoring, and website design and creation.

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49. Bob Miller Middle School

Bob Miller Middle School(Henderson, NV)

Bob Miller Middle School, which has been designated a five-star school by the Department of Education, takes an active interest in the students as individuals. The school gives each student a "mindset inventory" to help them develop a growth mindset, which is associated with achievement and success.

Education at Bob Miller is more than just academics---for example, deans meet with students to discuss behavior expectations---and yet their success in state assessment tests has placed them at the top of Nevada middle schools.

Students may participate in symphonic band, jazz band, orchestra, and choir, as well as athletics and fund-raising for charity and community service.

A variety of other clubs and activities are available to students, as well, including astronomy club, Bible club, art club, Bobcat Bowlers, Bobcat Writers, and archery club, among others.

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50. Discovery Middle School

Discovery Middle School(Granger, IN)

Discovery Middle School---located in Granger, an affluent suburb of South Bend, Indiana---serves grades 6 through 8 and has approximately 861 students.

Students at Discovery can participate in the Horizons STEM Conference, Academic Team Competitions, National Junior Honor Society, or the Discovery Scholastic Art Competition. Gold Key winners are sent to compete in the national level in New York City.

For fine arts, Discovery offers band, choir, orchestra, and piano lab. In the realm of athletics, there are basketball, track and field, cross country, volleyball, and football, while strength and conditioning, wrestling, tennis, and flag football are offered on an intramural basis.

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