Posted at: 10/22/2012 11:00 AM
Updated at: 10/23/2012 12:04 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
NISKAYUNA - Students were just ending a day at the Niskayuna Central School District Monday afternoon.
But for district leaders, it's what has been going on for four years that puts them on top in a comparison of 84 districts in the Capital Region.
"It's a shared honor and a shared responsibility among everyone in the district, our parents and board. So it should be affirming to everyone in the school community that what we have works well," said Dr. Deb Shea, assistant superintendent for instruction at Niskayuna.
Shea said there are a number of factors that gives Niskayuna top performance. All in the "Business First" report that compares standardized test scores on statewide exams for 3rd graders in English and math all the way up to the Regents exams in high school.
"Often our teachers look to the left and to the right and they're surrounded by teachers who have PhDs, are adjunct professors, nationally board-certified, and our district is one of the top in the state," Shea said.
Out of 84 districts in the analysis, the Albany School District came in last place.
"We understand full well the challenge and the work we have to do to raise achievement for every child in our district," said Albany school spokesman Ron Lesko. "We're committed to that and are working extremely hard at it everyday."
Green Island came in close to the bottom at Number 80. Superintendent Michael Mugits said part of the problem is the socio-economic situation and declining state aid. While he said Green island is taking part in a new NWEA program to track the academic progress of students, and is also concentrating on staff development, Mujits added that parents should consider more than test scores in evaluating a school.
"I think the most important metric for a parent is, does my son or daughter like the school? Do they feel comfortable? Is it a good school? Is there empathy, compassion and cooperation? A sense of purpose and meaning?" Mugits said.
Business First also compared teacher pay across upstate New York counties.
Albany schools rank number two on the list for highest pay, with a median salary of $75,000 a year.
Lesko said that in a high needs district, they have to offer competitive salaries to attract great teachers.
In the academic rankings, the top five school districts are: 1. Niskayuna, 2. Bethlehem, 3. Voorheesville, 4. North Colonie and 5. Guilderland.
The five schools ranked at the bottom are: 80. Green Island, 81. Troy, 82. Hudson, 83. Schenectady and 84. Albany.
|2012 Capital Region school district rankings|
|Source: Business First|
1. Niskayuna (Schenectady County)
2. Bethlehem (Albany County)
3. Voorheesville (Albany County)
4. North Colonie (Albany County)
5. Guilderland (Albany County)
6. East Greenbush (Rensselaer County)
7. Shenendehowa (Saratoga County)
8. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Saratoga County)
9. Saratoga Springs (Saratoga County)
10. Lake George (Warren County)
11. South Colonie (Albany County)
12. Cambridge (Washington County)
13. Queensbury (Warren County)
14. Schodack (Rensselaer County)
15. Greenwich (Washington County)
16. Ballston Spa (Saratoga County)
17. Scotia-Glenville (Schenectady County)
18. Schuylerville (Saratoga County)
19. Duanesburg (Schenectady County)
20. Averill Park (Rensselaer County)
21. Schalmont (Schenectady County)
22. Stillwater (Saratoga County)
23. Fonda-Fultonville (Montgomery County)
24. Salem (Washington County)
25. South Glens Falls (Saratoga County)
26. Glens Falls (Warren County)
27. Warrensburg (Warren County)
28. Canajoharie (Montgomery County)
29. Windham-Ashland-Jewett (Greene County)
30. North Warren (Warren County)
31. Johnsburg (Warren County)
32. Kinderhook (Columbia County)
33. Brunswick (Rensselaer County)
34. Mayfield (Fulton County)
35. Broadalbin-Perth (Fulton County)
36. Hoosick Falls (Rensselaer County)
37. Coxsackie-Athens (Greene County)
38. Germantown (Columbia County)
39. New Lebanon (Columbia County)
40. Chatham (Columbia County)
41. Rotterdam-Mohonasen (Schenectady County)
42. Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (Albany County)
43. Mechanicville (Saratoga County)
44. Hunter-Tannersville (Greene County)
45. Cobleskill-Richmondville (Schoharie County)
46. Galway (Saratoga County)
47. Waterford-Halfmoon (Saratoga County)
48. Greenville (Greene County)
49. Berne-Knox-Westerlo (Albany County)
50. Taconic Hills (Columbia County)
51. Jefferson (Schoharie County)
52. Schoharie (Schoharie County)
53. Hadley-Luzerne (Warren County)
54. Hoosic Valley (Rensselaer County)
55. Fort Ann (Washington County)
56. Hartford (Washington County)
57. Gilboa-Conesville (Schoharie County)
58. Johnstown (Fulton County)
59. Corinth (Saratoga County)
60. Sharon Springs (Schoharie County)
61. Fort Edward (Washington County)
62. Middleburgh (Schoharie County)
63. Saint Johnsville (Montgomery County)
64. Northville (Fulton County)
65. Fort Plain (Montgomery County)
66. Argyle (Washington County)
67. Granville (Washington County)
68. Berlin (Rensselaer County)
69. Hudson Falls (Washington County)
70. Watervliet (Albany County)
71. Cohoes (Albany County)
72. Rensselaer (Rensselaer County)
73. Gloversville (Fulton County)
74. Catskill (Greene County)
75. Whitehall (Washington County)
76. Oppenheim-Ephratah (Fulton County)
77. Cairo-Durham (Greene County)
78. Lansingburgh (Rensselaer County)
79. Amsterdam (Montgomery County)
80. Green Island (Albany County)
81. Troy (Rensselaer County)
82. Hudson (Columbia County)
83. Schenectady (Schenectady County)
84. Albany (Albany County)