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Business First ranks Upstate schools

Buffalo-based publication Business First published its annual list of school rankings on Oct. 27, this time including schools across New York state. Liverpool ranked 85th overall among upstate schools according to the study, and North Syracuse placed 133rd.

Other area school districts with notable rankings were Fayetteville-Manlius, which was rated second in the state; Skaneateles, which ranked fifth; and Cazenovia, which was rated ninth. Syracuse, meanwhile, came in second to last, placing just ahead of Rochester at 430th.

The study used raw data from the New York State Education Department to rank 431 school districts in 48 New York counties north of the 42nd parallel. Each district was ranked based on its students’ annual performance on 21 Regents exams and state assessment tests from 2007 to 2010, as well as the percentage of students who earned Regents diplomas. Special weight was given to diplomas with advanced designations, and the formula considered the percentage of students who achieved high marks on the Regents exams.

“The state applies the same standards to every school, whether rich or poor, urban or rural, it’s all the same,” said G. Scott Thomas, projects editor for Business First, who compiled the rankings. “So we apply the same tests to everyone exactly as the state does.”

Thomas said the publication has been compiling the rankings in Western New York for the last 20 years. This is the first time it has expanded beyond that 16-county region.

“It was at the urging of educators here,” Thomas said. “They wanted to know how their schools compare to the rest of the state.”

Thomas said he expected that Business First would continue to examine the larger sampling in the future.

“We got a really good response from people outside of our core area,” he said. “We originally covered 16 counties in the western part of the state, and the rankings were very well-received, but we got a good response from the Syracuse area, as well as the Albany area, Binghamton and especially the North Country. We’ll continue and elaborate as the years go by.”

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