Business First School Rankings: High schools

June 13, 2012 Updated Jun 13, 2012 at 6:11 AM EDT

By WKBW News

June 13, 2012 Updated Jun 13, 2012 at 6:11 AM EDT

Nardin Academy High School has been in this position many times before.

Nardin once again occupies first place in Business First's rankings of
Western New York's high schools. It has been No. 1 every year since the
separate ratings of public and private schools were combined in 2007. It
previously headed the list of private schools between 2002 and 2006.

"We certainly don't think about it every day, but yes, there is some
pressure," says Rebecca Reeder, principal of the all-girls Catholic school
in Buffalo. "It's wonderful to be in first place, but you always wonder if
it's going to come to an end. You just never know."

Full details will be available in Business First's 2012-2013 Guide to
Western New York Schools, which hits newsstands on Friday. Highlights are
also available right now (Wednesday) at the newspaper's website:

A key factor in Nardin's dominance is its Regents diploma rate. Fully 96.5
percent of last year's graduates earned Regents diplomas with advanced
designations, which are awarded to students who pass at least eight Regents

No other Western New York high school posted a rate better than 90 percent.
The regional average for advanced diplomas in all public and private schools
was 44.5 percent.

Nardin continues to pursue the elusive 100 percent rate for advanced
diplomas, says Reeder, and it also seeks to boost the percentage of students
attaining superior scores on Regents tests. (A superior score, also known as
a mastery score, is defined as 85 or better on any Regents exam.)

"We're looking more and more to the mastery level," she says. "There are
always some kids who find it difficult to take tests, and we want to help
them feel more comfortable and move up to that level if they can."

Buffalo's City Honors School has made its own move this year, edging up
from third place in 2011 to second on the current list. City Honors, which
annually topped the public school rankings between 2002 and 2006, now holds
its highest position on the combined list since 2007, when it also finished

"We're supplied with a very talented bunch of students, of course, but we
make sure to challenge them every day," says William Kresse, principal of
the public school that attracts topflight students from throughout the city.
"We engage them at a high level. Maximizing their potential is our goal.
It's the reason we're here."

Nine of every 10 City Honors graduates -- 89.3 percent -- received advanced
diplomas last June, the best figure for any high school besides Nardin. Only
two others were above 75 percent.

Business First analyzed the academic records of 135 high schools in the
eight-county region, using four years of test results collected by the New
York State Education Department.

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls school in Amherst, is
third in the current standings, slipping from second place a year ago. It's
followed by four public schools: No. 4 Williamsville East, No. 5 East
Aurora, No. 6 Williamsville North and No. 7 Clarence.

Rounding out the top 10 are three private schools: Christian Central
Academy, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Mount St. Mary Academy.

These 10 leaders have a geographic factor in common: All are located within
Erie County. The top-rated outlying entry is Bemus Point's Maple Grove
Junior-Senior High School. The rural Chautauqua County school ranks 11th.

"This is such a small district that we're able to give personalized
attention to all of these kids, as much as they need," says Edward Turkasz,
Maple Grove's principal. "Our teachers are so dedicated. They work so hard,
and they won't let our kids fail. That's the kind of relationship that gets

Business First rates not only the overall academic records of high schools,
but also their performances in four core subjects, based on test scores from
2008 to 2011, the latest figures available.

The top two schools in the overall standings also distinguish themselves in
the subject rankings. Nardin is first in English and science, and it's the
runner-up in math and social studies. City Honors leads the pack in the
latter two subjects.

Thirty schools have earned subject awards this year, indicating that they
rank among the top 10 percent of Western New York's high schools in at least
one of the core fields.

Four schools have pulled clean sweeps of all four awards: City Honors,
Nardin, Williamsville East and Williamsville North.

"I attribute it to several factors," says Petrina Neureuter, Williamsville
North's principal. "We have students who work really hard, teachers who are
really dedicated, and a strong partnership with our parents."

Two schools have picked up a trio of subject awards each. Christian Central
was blanked only in the social studies category, and Sacred Heart fell short
only in science. Another 10 high schools have won two awards apiece.

Regents exams are not compulsory for private schools. Among those that do
not participate in the statewide testing program are Buffalo Seminary,
Canisius High School, Nichols School and Park School of Buffalo.

Business First does not rate schools that aren't on the Regents track,
since it lacks the objective data to assess their academic records.

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1. Nardin Academy HS (Buffalo)
2. City Honors School (Buffalo)
3. Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart (Amherst)
4. Williamsville East HS (Williamsville)
5. East Aurora HS (East Aurora)
6. Williamsville North HS (Williamsville)
7. Clarence SHS (Clarence)
8. Christian Central Academy (Williamsville)
9. St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
10. Mount St. Mary Academy (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
11. Maple Grove JSHS (Bemus Point)
12. Lewiston-Porter SHS (Lewiston-Porter)
13. Williamsville South HS (Williamsville)
14. Orchard Park HS (Orchard Park)
15. Holy Angels Academy (Buffalo)
16. St. Francis HS (Frontier)
17. Notre Dame HS (Batavia)
18. St. Mary's HS (Lancaster)
19. Iroquois SHS (Iroquois)
20. Akron HS (Akron)
21. Immaculata Academy (Frontier)
22. Alden SHS (Alden)
23. West Seneca East SHS (West Seneca)
24. Lancaster HS (Lancaster)
25. Hamburg HS (Hamburg)
26. Alfred-Almond JSHS (Alfred-Almond)
27. Mount Mercy Academy (Buffalo)
28. Holland HS (Holland)
29. Amherst Central HS (Amherst)
30. Eden JSHS (Eden)
31. P.S. 156 Frederick Law Olmsted (Buffalo)
32. Grand Island SHS (Grand Island)
33. Southwestern SHS (Southwestern)
34. Barker MHS (Barker)
35. Chautauqua Lake Secondary School (Chautauqua Lake)
36. West Seneca West SHS (West Seneca)
37. Wilson MHS (Wilson)
38. Fredonia HS (Fredonia)
39. Starpoint HS (Starpoint)
40. North Collins JSHS (North Collins)
41. Frontier SHS (Frontier)
42. Pembroke JSHS (Pembroke)
43. LeRoy JSHS (LeRoy)
44. Allegany-Limestone HS (Allegany-Limestone)
45. Elba JSHS (Elba)
46. Niagara-Wheatfield SHS (Niagara-Wheatfield)
47. Niagara Catholic HS (Niagara Falls)
48. Bishop Timon-St. Jude HS (Buffalo)
49. Griffith Institute HS (Springville-Griffith Institute)
50. Kendall JSHS (Kendall)
51. Westfield HS (Westfield)
52. Pine Valley Central JSHS (Pine Valley)
53. West Valley Central School (West Valley)
54. Cardinal O'Hara HS (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
55. Sweet Home SHS (Sweet Home)
56. Ellicottville MHS (Ellicottville)
57. Oakfield-Alabama MHS (Oakfield-Alabama)
58. Pavilion JSHS (Pavilion)
59. Falconer MHS (Falconer)
60. Portville JSHS (Portville)
61. Genesee Valley School (Genesee Valley)
62. Clymer Central School (Clymer)
63. Sherman MHS (Sherman)
64. Panama MHS (Panama)
65. Fillmore Central School (Fillmore)
66. Cuba-Rushford HS (Cuba-Rushford)
67. Kenmore East SHS (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
68. Depew HS (Depew)
69. Silver Creek HS (Silver Creek)
70. Tonawanda MHS (Tonawanda)
71. Kenmore West SHS (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
72. Frewsburg JSHS (Frewsburg)
73. L.A. Webber MHS (Lyndonville)
74. Batavia HS (Batavia)
75. Newfane SHS (Newfane)
76. Maryvale HS (Cheektowaga-Maryvale)
77. Letchworth SHS (Letchworth)
78. Warsaw MHS (Warsaw)
79. Alexander MHS (Alexander)
80. Wellsville SHS (Wellsville)
81. Cleveland Hill HS (Cleveland Hill)
82. Randolph JSHS (Randolph)
83. Archbishop Walsh Academy (Olean)
84. Attica HS (Attica)
85. Lockport HS (Lockport)
86. Cassadaga Valley MHS (Cassadaga Valley)
87. Byron-Bergen HS (Byron-Bergen)
88. North Tonawanda HS (North Tonawanda)
89. Olean SHS (Olean)
90. John F. Kennedy SHS (Cheektowaga-Sloan)
91. Cattaraugus-Little Valley HS (Cattaraugus-Little Valley)
92. Gowanda HS (Gowanda)
93. Belfast School (Belfast)
94. Leonardo Da Vinci HS (Buffalo)
95. Bolivar-Richburg JSHS (Bolivar-Richburg)
96. Perry HS (Perry)
97. Pioneer SHS (Yorkshire-Pioneer)
98. CS for Applied Technologies (Kenmore-Tonawanda)
99. Hutchinson Central Technical HS (Buffalo)
100. Charles D'Amico HS (Albion)

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.