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Business First of Buffalo releases Springville, West Valley, Yorkshire and Boston school district rankings

SPRINGVILLE — Business First of Buffalo has completed its annual academic ranking of Western New York’s public and private elementary, middle and high schools, based on four years of test data from the New York State Education Department.

Only Western New York schools that take part in the statewide Regents tests were ranked.

Business First’s rankings are based on the past four years of test results and graduation rates, as reported by the New York State Education Department. This year’s rankings were created from 2009 – 2012 data.

An annual, 100-point scale score was calculated, for each district and/or school. According to Business First Projects Editor G. Scott Thomas, “Annual scores, for the past four years, are then averaged ... with the most recent year being given the greatest weight.”

The publication analyzed the components of each year’s formula, twice. Schools were awarded one score for its “percentage of students who demonstrated superior skills on a given test and a second score for the percentage with basic skills,” according to Thomas.

Business First defined Regents scores of 85 or higher as “superior” and scores of 65 or higher as “basic.” The publication considered level 4 scores on elementary or middle school exams “superior.”

Business First rated the 281 public and private elementary schools that took part in the New York statewide testing program for students in third and/or fourth grade.

Elementary and middle schools’ annual scores were determined by the students’ statewide English and math test results. The publication took into account eight “statistical indicators ... to determine each school’s annual score.”

The list of elementary school rankings was released on June 11, with Christ the King School’s taking first place.

St. Aloysius Regional School was Springville’s highest-ranking contributor, to this group, for the third year in a row, coming in at No. 37. This was down from St. Aloysius’ 2012 ranking of No. 34 and its 2011 ranking of 21.

Springville-Griffith Institute’s Colden Elementary remained at No. 81, where it climbed last year, up 41 points, from 122, in 2011.

The Hamburg School District’s Boston Valley Elementary School was ranked No. 102, on this list, and Pioneer Central School District’s Arcade Elementary School followed, at No. 156.

West Valley Central School’s elementary school was ranked at No. 170. Springville Elementary School, which came in at No. 178 in 2011, dropped by one point, to No. 179.

Last year, Business First released the academic records of only the top 100 elementary schools in Western New York. Last year’s numbers were not available, for Boston, West Valley, Arcade and Springville-Griffith Institute elementary schools, which all fell below the top 100, in 2012.

At the middle school level, St. Aloysius Regional School was the only local school that improved, in terms of Business First’s rankings. This school has been consistently improving, and climbed, from No. 62 in 2011 and 39 in 2012, to No. 28, this year.

Springville Middle School fell to No. 61, this year, from No. 58 last year and 57, in 2011. West Valley Central School Middle School dipped 21 points, from No. 97 in 2012 to No. 118, this year. That school’s scores put it at No. 61, in 2011.

Pioneer Middle School, which did not appear in last year’s Business First top 100 middle school rankings, came in at No. 125, this year.

Transit Middle School of Williamsville took first place, in the Business First rankings, for the fifth year in a row and the eighth time, since 2004.

The Buffalo publication also ranked the 135 WNY public and private high schools that participate in Regents testing. The scores, released on June 13, were based on the percentage of graduates who received Regents diplomas and students’ scores on 10 Regents exams. Business First analyzed 22 statistical indicators, to determine each score.

Nardin Academy High School of Buffalo sat at the top of the list. According to WGRZ-TV, “Nardin has been ranked first, every year, since the separate ratings of public and private schools were combined, in 2007.”

S-GI High School remained consistent, at No. 49, the same spot it held, last year. This school was ranked No. 47, in 2011.

West Valley Central School slid to No. 57, from 53 in 2012 and 49, in 2011. Pioneer High School fell six points, to land at No. 103, on the list.

Business First released its overall school district ranking, on June 14. These numbers “reflect the collective performance of each district’s public schools, from kindergarten – 12th grade,” according to Thomas.

The scores are based on the percentage of graduates who received Regents diplomas, high school Regents exam scores and elementary and middle school tests. A total of 168 indicators, during a four-year period, were analyzed, to determine school district scores.

Out of the 97 Western New York districts ranked, the Williamsville School District again took top place, obtaining the honor roll district distinction, along with 14 other districts.

S-GI remained at No. 26; West Valley fell, from No. 34 to No. 40, and Pioneer came in at No. 74, down from last year’s No. 67.

Business First’s achievement index ratings were released on June 17. The publication compared “each school district’s academic rank and socioeconomic rank. The higher a district’s position on that index, the more it is outperforming the expectations raised, by its socioeconomic climate.”

Districts’ overall ranks, as well as rating, on a five-star scale, were provided. Districts’ falling in the top 10 percent were given five stars, the next 15 percent received four, and so forth, in 25 percent increments.

The West Valley Central School District was awarded four stars. That Cattaraugus County district has a current enrollment of 311.

Erie County’s S-GI School District, with an enrollment of 1,968, was given an index rating of two stars. Yorkshire-Pioneer of Cattaraugus County, with an enrollment of 2,451, was given a one-star rating.

The 2012 graduation rates also are in. Business First considered the “pool of students who began high school in September 2008, indicating the percentage who received their diplomas no later than June 2012.”

East Aurora came in at No. 1, in this list, with a 96.6 percent graduation rate. West Valley saw 86.2 percent of its students graduate, while Springville-Griffith Institute graduated 84.2 percent. Yorkshire-Pioneer was at No. 69, on the list, with a 79.2 percent graduation rate.

Copies of the “2013-2014 Guide to Western New York Schools” may be purchased from Business First.

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