Business First conducted an analysis of 97 of Western New York's 98 school districts by examining four years of test data provided by the New York State Department of Education. Each school district was then given a rating, indicating the general performance of its public elementary, middle, and high schools. Wyoming, the 98th district, does not have a public high school and therefore did not receive a rating.
In terms of overall ranking, Lewiston-Porter was ranked 10th among the Western New York school districts. Barker was ranked 17th, Niagara-Wheatfield was ranked 21st, and Wilson was ranked 24th. Newfane, Royalton-Hartland, and North Tonawanda school districts followed with rankings of 36th, 52nd, and 55th, respectively. Lockport school district was ranked 56th and Niagara Falls was ranked 90th.
The study was done as part of Business First's 2011-2012 Guide to Western New York Schools, a news publication that was released Friday. Highlights are currently available online at www.bizjournals.com/buffalo.
In Business First's ranking of the top 100 elementary schools, St. Peter's ranked 27th, Thomas Marks Elementary School of Wilson came in 75th, and the Lewiston-Porter Intermediate Education Center filled the 100th spot.
Two hundred and ten Western New York middle schools were evaluated by looking at four years of test results for eighth graders statewide, provided by the state Department of Education. Three middle schools on the list are located in the Lewiston-Porter district, and include Stella Niagara (ranked 7th), St. Peter School (8th) and Lewiston-Porter Middle School (50th). Newfane Middle School was also on the list, and came in as 82nd.
Business First also looked at the 133 high schools among the eight Western New York counties, and ranked them based off four years of test scores, each school's Regents diploma rate, and varying scores from several Regents exams. All test data was provided by the Department of Education. Lewiston-Porter Senior High School came in 14th, followed by Wilson Middle and High School (32nd) and Barker High School (33rd). Niagara Catholic High School was ranked 53rd and Newfane Senior High School was ranked 67th.
Districts were also ranked based on pay disparities between school superintendent and teachers, being superintendent/teacher pay ratios, superintendent budgeted salaries, and the median salaries for teachers. Lew-Port was ranked 25th in this category, with a superintendent/teacher pay ratio of 3.03 (superintendent receiving an average of $176,875 a year and teachers receiving an average of $58,397 a year).
Socioeconomic climate was also assessed, defined as the amount of students qualified to receive free or reduced-price lunch, the youth poverty rate, and the ratio between a district's property and income wealth. The highest scores are given to districts with low percentages for free lunch and poverty and high wealth ratios. The Lew-Port school district was ranked seventh. East Aurora, Williamsville and Orchard Park received first, second and third, respectively.
School districts' cost effectiveness was measured by comparing a district's standardized test performance with the spending rate per student. Lew-Port did not make the rankings for cost-effectiveness.