BUFFALO, NY ( Business First ) There's a new principal, but the results are the same. Transit Middle School of Williamsville once again holds first place in Business First's rankings of Western New York middle schools.
Daniel Walh, previously an assistant principal at another Williamsville
middle school, assumed the top post at Transit in midwinter, replacing the retiring Jill Pellis. Transit had finished first the previous two years under Pellis' direction.
"I'm blessed to walk into such a great situation," says Walh. "There are
very dedicated and skilled teachers here. Despite all the success they've had in the past, they're not satisfied. They're constantly working to improve their craft."
Full details will be available in Business First's 2011-2012 Guide to
Western New York Schools, which hits newsstands on Friday. Highlights are also available at the newspaper's website:
Buffalo's City Honors School moves up to second place in 2011 from third a year ago. (City Honors, which runs from fifth through 12th grade, is rated both as a high school and a middle school.)
Principal William Kresse gives credit to his students for successfully
tackling the accelerated courseload that is mandated at City Honors.
"The curriculum that we deliver is a year ahead of state standards," he
says. "When students come in as fifth graders, we jump them to sixth grade right away. When they're in eighth grade, they take a full high school schedule. Almost all of them meet the challenge."
This year's top two schools have dominated the middle school rankings from the start in 2002. Transit has taken first place six times, and City Honors has been No. 1 three times. The only other middle school to top the list was Williamsville's Casey Middle School in 2008.
Occupying third through fifth place, respectively, in this year's rankings
are Casey (where Walh served as an assistant principal until January), Amherst's Christ the King School, and Kadimah School of Buffalo. The latter, despite its name, is actually located within the Amherst district.
Kadimah is among the tiniest middle schools in Western New York, with 60 students from fifth through eighth grade.
"We're small, and that helps," says Joel Weiss, Kadimah's head of school. "If a child is struggling and is in a class of nine, the problem is easier to identify and deal with."
Business First assessed 210 middle schools across Western New York, combing through four years of statewide test results for eighth graders. All test scores were provided by the New York State Education Department.
Middle schools typically run from sixth through eighth grade, though some begin in fifth grade. Many private schools and a few public schools have an even broader span from kindergarten through eighth grade. They consequently receive two rankings from Business First -- one as a middle school, another as an elementary school.
Transit earned first place on this year's middle school list because of its exceptional balance:
-- It was one of 12 Western New York schools to have more than 20 percent of all eighth graders achieve superior scores (Level 4) on the 2010 statewide English test.
-- It was among five schools where more than half of eighth graders hit the superior level on the statewide math test.
-- It was one of only three middle schools to belong to both of the previous groups. (The others were Kadimah and Stella Niagara Education Park.)
Erie County dominates the upper echelon of the middle school rankings, filling 21 of the top 25 slots.
The exceptions are three entries from Niagara County -- No. 7 Stella Niagara and No. 8 St. Peter School, both located in the Lewiston-Porter district, and No. 23 St. John Lutheran School of Niagara-Wheatfield -- along with No. 25 Chautauqua Lake Secondary School, which is in Chautauqua County.
Business First also issued separate ratings of all middle schools in math and English, based on a detailed analysis of 2007-2010 test data. Transit is No. 1 in the resulting mathematics standings, and it's No. 3 in English, trailing only City Honors and St. Peter School.
Subject awards are given to the top 10 percent of all middle schools in each field. Twelve schools swept this year's English and math awards, while another 20 schools earned a single award.
Included in the latter group is the Southern Tier's top-rated middle school, Chautauqua Lake, which has been singled out as one of the region's best schools in mathematics.
"Our math department has very experienced teachers in sixth, seventh and eighth grades," says Joshua Liddell, Chautauqua Lake's principal. "And they believe in the team concept. They work really well together."
Private schools that don't participate in the statewide testing program for eighth graders are not included in Business First's rankings, since their performances can't be measured against standardized benchmarks. Among the better-known middle schools that don't take part are Elmwood Franklin School, Nichols School and Park School of Buffalo.
TOP 100 MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN BUSINESS FIRST'S RANKINGS
(EACH SCHOOL IS FOLLOWED BY THE DISTRICT IN WHICH IT'S LOCATED; SEE BOTTOM
OF PAGE FOR ABBREVIATIONS)
1. Transit MS (Williamsville)
2. City Honors School (Buffalo)
3. Casey MS (Williamsville)
4. Christ the King School (Amherst)
5. Kadimah School of Buffalo (Amherst)
6. St. Mark's School (Buffalo)
7. Stella Niagara Education Park (Lewiston-Porter)
8. St. Peter School (Lewiston-Porter)
9. Mill MS (Williamsville)
10. Heim MS (Williamsville)
11. St. John Vianney School (Orchard Park)
12. St. Christopher's School (Sweet Home)
13. Christian Central Academy (Williamsville)
14. St. Gregory the Great School (Williamsville)
15. Amherst MS (Amherst)
16. St. Leo the Great School (Sweet Home)
17. Immaculate Conception School (East Aurora)
18. Clarence MS (Clarence)
19. St. John the Baptist School (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
20. Alden MS (Alden)
21. East Aurora MS (East Aurora)
22. Queen of Heaven School (West Seneca)
23. St. John Lutheran School (Niagara-Wheatfield)
24. St. Stephen School (Grand Island)
25. Chautauqua Lake Secondary School (Chautauqua Lake)
26. St. Mary's School (Williamsville)
27. DeSales Catholic ES (Lockport)
28. Holy Ghost Lutheran School (Niagara-Wheatfield)
29. Frontier MS (Frontier)
30. Maple Grove JSHS (Bemus Point)
31. Iroquois MS (Iroquois)
32. Holland MS (Holland)
33. Southern Tier Catholic School (Olean)
34. Orchard Park MS (Orchard Park)
35. East MS (West Seneca)
36. Nardin Academy ES (Buffalo)
37. St. Francis of Assisi School (Tonawanda)
38. Hamburg MS (Hamburg)
39. Lancaster MS (Lancaster)
40. St. Peter & Paul School (Hamburg)
41. Veronica E. Connor MS (Grand Island)
42. Alfred-Almond JSHS (Alfred-Almond)
43. St. John the Baptist School (Alden)
44. St. Peter & Paul School (Williamsville)
45. Akron MS (Akron)
46. St. Andrew's Country Day School (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
47. West MS (West Seneca)
48. Immaculate Conception School (Wellsville)
49. Barker MS (Barker)
50. Lewiston-Porter MS (Lewiston-Porter)
51. Herbert Hoover MS (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
52. Lake Shore Central MS (Evans-Brant)
53. Wyoming Central School (Wyoming)
54. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School (Clarence)
55. Whitesville Central School (Whitesville)
56. Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School (Lancaster)
57. Griffith Institute MS (Springville-Griffith Institute)
58. Southwestern MS (Southwestern)
59. Kenmore MS (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
60. St. Mary's ES (Lancaster)
61. West Valley Central School (West Valley)
62. St. Aloysius Regional School (Springville-Griffith Institute)
63. North Collins JSHS (North Collins)
64. Pembroke JSHS (Pembroke)
65. St. Dominic Savio MS (Niagara Falls)
66. Starpoint MS (Starpoint)
67. Tonawanda MHS (Tonawanda)
68. Sweet Home MS (Sweet Home)
69. Cleveland Hill MS (Cleveland Hill)
70. St. Amelia School (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
71. Edward Town MS (Niagara-Wheatfield)
72. St. Bernadette School (Orchard Park)
73. Cuba-Rushford MS (Cuba-Rushford)
74. St. Mary's of the Lake School (Frontier)
75. St. Joseph School (Batavia)
76. St. Peter's Lutheran School (Niagara-Wheatfield)
77. Clymer Central School (Clymer)
78. Sherman MHS (Sherman)
79. Alexander MHS (Alexander)
80. Depew MS (Depew)
81. St. Benedict's School (Amherst)
82. Newfane MS (Newfane)
83. Pine Valley Central JSHS (Pine Valley)
84. Maryvale MS (Cheektowaga-Maryvale)
85. Nativity of Our Lord School (Orchard Park)
86. Allegany-Limestone MS (Allegany-Limestone)
87. Carl I. Bergerson MS (Albion)
88. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School (Iroquois)
89. Fourteen Holy Helpers School (West Seneca)
90. Olean MS (Olean)
91. Letchworth MS (Letchworth)
92. Byron-Bergen MS (Byron-Bergen)
93. Eden JSHS (Eden)
94. Cassadaga Valley MHS (Cassadaga Valley)
95. Fredonia MS (Fredonia)
96. Persell MS (Jamestown)
97. Tapestry CS (Buffalo)
98. Royalton-Hartland MS (Royalton-Hartland)
99. Gowanda MS (Gowanda)
100. Pavilion JSHS (Pavilion)
ABBREVIATIONS: CS-Charter School, EMS-Elementary-Middle School,
ES-Elementary School, HS-High School, IS-Intermediate School, JHS-Junior High School, JSHS-Junior-Senior High School, MHS-Middle-High School, MS-Middle School, PS-Primary School, SHS-Senior High School, VHS-Vocational High School.