ALBANY COUNTY – Business First released its rankings for Albany area public school districts this week—and Bethlehem Central School District came in first out of 83 eligible districts spanning 11 counties. Also in the top ten were: North Colonie (#3), Guilderland (#4) and Voorheesville (#7).
Standings were the result of analyzing four years of test scores and graduation rates for eligible districts in Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington counties—a 224-part formula covered everything from statewide English and math exams for third graders, up to all ten Regents exams given to high school students. The rankings included more specific ratings of school districts in each of the four core subjects: Bethlehem is number one in social studies, Niskayuna excels in English and math, and North Colonie is top in science.
The rankings, which reflect the collective performance of each district’s K-12 public schools, were determines through a four-step process. Each component is analyzed twice and districts are given one score for the percentage of students who demonstrated “superior” skills on a given assessment and another for the percentage of students who were scored as having “basic” skills on the same assessments. (For example: superior on a Regents exam is defined as 85 points or better and basic is defined as 65 or better; superior on an elementary or middle school exam is defined as a level 4 performance and basic is defined as a level 3 or level 4 performance.)
Districts are then compared across categories and assigned either a positive score (above average) or a negative score (below average). Next, those scores are plugged into a formula which generates an annual score in the same positive/negative format and scores of the previous four years are averaged, with the most weight given to the most recent years. An additional bonus sum, also included in the average, is the best annual sum from the first three years of the four-year period, and receives the least weight. Finally, the adjusted sum, which is still in positive/negative format, is converted to a scale on which the top district or school in a given category receives 100 points and the bottom entry gets 60 points and the resulting number is the final score. The value of the final score for each district is determined by the relative position of its adjusted sum between those of the top and bottom entries.
The Albany area is one of eight markets analyzed by Business First. Statewide rankings will be released on Friday, June 17, and will encompass 431 districts in the 48 Upstate counties. Eligible school systems met a pair of criteria: each district had a K-12 enrollment of at least 200 students as of last year, and each had a functioning public high school as of June 2015.
More information on the ranking methodology can be found on the Buffalo Business First website at: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/06/01/method.html