LE ROY — Area school superintendents are giving mixed grades to a report that places five local high schools among the top 500 in the state.
U.S. News & World Report rated schools, both statewide and nationally, in coordination with a global non-profit social science research firm. A total of 12 in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties were listed. There are 1,266 high schools in the state, according to the report.
Superintendents said they appreciated the data, although some had reservations about the publication’s methods.
Districts recognized included:
LE ROY JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, 205TH
District Superintendent Merritt Holly said with the U.S. News rankings, as with any other rankings, “We always want to have an understanding what metric or metrics are being used to measure your ranking/standing.”
“U.S. News & World Report does consider six factors, but we are unclear how each is weighted,” he said. “We are constantly looking at different data points daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. One ranking does not define that entire picture.”
Holly did not comment when asked how much stock Le Roy puts in the school’s rank compared to other schools in the state.
As to other factors aside from academics which figure into a school’s ranking, the superintendent said a district’s wealth ratio is always an important factor along with enrollment, how much a district spends per pupil, rural, suburban, urban and cost-effectiveness.
“Schools have to make their own local decision on which rankings truly represent a fair and accurate assessment of their entire school district. That does not always mean you choose the ranking in which your school is the best in (or highest in),” he said. “In my opinion, I have an issue with any organization, publication, or entity that has the potential to make additional profit off the publication of school rankings. The U.S. News & World Report would fall in that category with their licensing, banners, and other products a school can buy/purchase.”
ELBA JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, 259TH
Superintendent Ned Dale, said the U.S. News ranking uses a few indicators that look at a small amount of data used in schools, specifically, IB (International Baccalaureate) and AP (Advanced Placement) data. Dale said he doesn’t specifically know of any schools in the Genesee Valley area that are in the International Baccalaureate program.
“We do not use the rankings to determine any instructional next steps. Curriculum decisions are based on the needs of the students and not a nationwide ranking,” he said. “Our goal is to be competitive and the best district possible, but the rankings only consider third-party data from the AP and IB scores. “They don’t call and get information from schools. We use many assessments to determine our students’ needs.”
The superintendent said as published rankings become available, it will be critical for residents to assess how they are calculated.
“We did not administer New York State Assessments last year. They implemented many changes in this year’s assessments that will skew the results this year,” he said. “I am proud to work with the other superintendents in this region that share best practices and positive results. Our sharing and collaboration has led to a group of schools in the Genesee Valley that provide a well-rounded education for our students.”
PEMBROKE JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, 350TH
Superintendent Matthew Calderon said the district likes to use multiple measures to help it determine how well it is doing.
“With that in mind, we appreciate the information provided by the U.S. News & World Report, although we consider it similar to an overall temperature check for a snapshot in time that is often based on data from previous years,” he said. “Our ranking is often cause for celebration, demonstrating that we are generally “healthy,” but does not drive our day-to-day decision-making for continuous improvement.”
LETCHWORTH SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, 395TH
Superintendent Todd Campbell said it nice to be recognized for academic achievement and success, especially when it is essential to promote excellence.
“The goal is to strive for all students to succeed. The challenge is that sometimes real success is difficult to measure with an assessment or a specific piece of data,” he said.
Campbell said the U.S. News benchmark is just one piece of the puzzle.
“We accept the ranking for what it is and value the hard work to get there, but we are careful to keep it in perspective. There is always more work to do,” he said. “I prefer not to compare Letchworth CSD to other schools or look at a ranking. I believe if we do that, we lose focus of our students’ needs and goals. Our students are unique to Letchworth. We value their individual talents and support each of them differently based on their needs. Every school has strengths, weaknesses and unique circumstances.”
OAKFIELD-ALABAMA MIDDLE SCHOOL-HIGH SCHOOL, 476TH
Superintendent John Fisgus, Oakfield-Alabama said, “Even now more than ever, these rankings are skewed and the data they pull (and how they calculate it) is even more clouded than before.”
Other schools in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties in the top 500 included: Alexander Middle School-High School, -202; Warsaw Middle/Senior High School, -213; Pavilion Junior-Senior High School, -374; Medina High School, -376; Kendall Junior-Senior High School, -381; Pioneer Senior High School -407; Byron-Bergen Junior/Senior High School, -469.
U.S. News said April 26 that it rated schools according to:
n College readiness — proportions of 12th graders who took and earned a qualifying score on at least one AP or IB exam. Earning a qualifying score is worth three times more than just taking;
n Math and reading proficiency — aggregated scores on state assessments that students may be required to pass for graduation;
n Math and reading performance — how aggregated scores on state assessments compare with U.S. News’ expectations given the proportions of students who are Black, Hispanic and from low-income households;
n Underserved student performance — scores on state assessments aggregated just among students who are Black, Hispanic and from low-income households. These scores are compared with what is typical in the state for non-undeserved students, with parity or higher being the goal;
n College curriculum breadth — the proportions of 12th graders who took and earned a qualifying score on AP and IB exams in multiple areas; and
n Graduation rate — the proportion of entering ninth graders who graduated four academic years later.