You might not expect Sherman to do well in Business First's rankings of
Western New York's school districts.
Consider its location. Sherman hugs the Pennsylvania line in southwestern
Chautauqua County. It's fairly unusual for school systems in that area to
finish near the top of the academic standings. Only three of the Southern
Tier's 42 districts qualified for the 2012 Honor Roll.
There's its size, for another thing. Sherman has 459 students from
kindergarten through 12th grade. None of this year's top 30 districts has
fewer than 622 students. Most have more than 1,000.
And then there's the worst barrier of all. One of every three children in
Sherman -- 31.2 percent -- lives below the poverty line. That's the
sixth-worst poverty rate in all of Western New York.
But Sherman, despite these impediments, somehow manages to succeed. It ranks
36th in this year's academic standings, outperforming 63.5 percent of all
districts in the eight-county region.
That makes it the biggest overachiever in Western New York, according to
specialized ratings by Business First.
Full details are available in Business First's 2012-2013 Guide to Western
New York Schools, which hits newsstands today (Friday). Highlights are also
available right now at the newspaper's website:
"We're blessed with excellent families here," says Thomas Schmidt, Sherman's
superintendent. "They may not have a lot of money, but they do have strong
family values -- and they put a very high priority on education."
Business First used each school system's poverty rate and two other
indicators to rank the districts from most affluent (East Aurora) to most
disadvantaged (Buffalo). This socioeconomic-climate rating was then compared
to the academic rank for each district.
Sherman emerges as the region's biggest overachiever with a score of
plus-55. That's how much better its academic slot (36th place) is than its
socioeconomic position (91st place).
Six other districts have outstripped their socioeconomic expectations by at
least 25 places, led by Pine Valley (plus-35) and Westfield (plus-34).
The achievement index is one of seven specialized ratings generated by
Business First. They have no impact on the academic rankings, but are
specifically designed to illuminate other aspects of district performance.
2. Pine Valley
9. (tie) Clymer
9. (tie) Oakfield-Alabama