LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's an honor given to only a handful of Indiana schools, and three of them are in Floyd County.

Hazelwood Middle School, Highland Hills Middle School and Scribner Middle School are being spotlighted as "Schools to Watch" by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle School Reform. The group sends judges into classrooms throughout the country and names schools on their way to excellence.

Hazelwood English teacher Rachel Genakos said, "It really shows that our students are working, taking pride in education and showing improvements."

All three of the New Albany Floyd County Middle Schools scored high marks in areas like academics, school structure and social equity in the National Forum's evaluation.

"I think that's a great honor, thinking that we have some of the smartest and most gifted students here -- and I go here -- is crazy," said Kelly Titus, an eighth grade student. "I think it's just really good that we were chosen for that."

The award comes as New Albany-Floyd County, much like all the schools in the state, face great uncertainty. Indiana dropped Common Core, adopted new education standards and then half the students who took the new ISTEP failed. Now there's a push to get rid of the test altogether. 

"Absolutely," said Bill Krammes, the principal of Highland Hills Middle School. "The state of Indiana right now is in a lot of turmoil. People are upset. People don't understand, they're confused...but this is an affirmation of all the great things that we are doing."

Out of  282 middle schools in Indiana, only 13 were named "Schools to Watch." The honor doesn't come with any money or new programs. Instead, as one principal put it, it comes with peace of mind.

"I think parents should know that they've made the right choice," said Keith Bush, principal of Scribner Middle School. "We have three great middle schools and wherever they chose to go, they're going to get a high quality education."

Genakos said "Basically you know you're with the kids every day, you see their improvements, you know their strengths, and you know that they're more than a test score." 

Since 1999, more than 350 schools in 18 states have been recognized as "Schools to Watch."

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