Upstate School Rankings

October 11, 2013 Updated Oct 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM EDT

By G. Scott Thomas, Projects Editor- Business First


Upstate School Rankings

October 11, 2013 Updated Oct 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM EDT

Suburban districts once again dominate Business First's annual rankings of Upstate New York's school systems:

• Pittsford, which is located southeast of Rochester, remains the top-rated district throughout the 48-county region in 2013. It has been No. 1 since the Upstate rankings debuted in 2011.

• Fayetteville-Manlius, which is east of Syracuse, is in second place, just as it was a year ago.

• Another Rochester suburb, Honeoye Falls-Lima, pushes up to third this year from sixth a year ago.

• Rounding out the top 10 are the following suburban districts, in order from fourth place to 10th: Brighton (outside Rochester), Skaneateles (Syracuse), Williamsville (Buffalo), Cazenovia (Syracuse), East Aurora (Buffalo), Bethlehem (Albany) and Clarence (Buffalo).

Complete details will be printed in Business First's 2013-2014 Guide to Upstate School Districts, a 480-page electronic publication that will be available on Friday. Copies can be ordered by calling 716-541-1631 or e-mailing Karen Schiffmacher at


Business First has been issuing annual performance ratings for schools in Western New York since 1992. It added yearly rankings for the Rochester Area in 2010.

Those two efforts inspired the 2011 launch of the Upstate rankings, which encompass all 48 New York counties north of the 42nd parallel.

Business First analyzed the academic records of 429 Upstate school districts this year, based on a broad range of test data from the New York State Education Department.

Each district's rank reflects the collective performance of its elementary, middle and high schools from 2009 to 2012, the most recent four-year period for which comprehensive statistics are available.

The rating formula devised by Business First has 168 components, ranging from English and math tests for third graders up to the full complement of Regents exams for high schoolers.

Pittsford is Upstate's No. 1 school system because of its unparalleled academic strength:

• It sets the pace for the entire region in three broad subjects (English/foreign languages, science and social studies), according to Business First's breakdown of 2009-2012 test results.

• Pittsford is No. 2 in the remaining subject, math, trailing only Fayetteville-Manlius.

• It's the sole Upstate district where more than three-quarters of all test-takers received superior scores on 2012 Regents exams in English, U.S. history, global history, biology and earth science.

• Seventy-seven percent of Pittsford's graduates earned Regents diplomas with advanced designations in 2012, the latest year for which statewide figures have been released. That's just a step behind the Upstate leader, Honeoye Falls-Lima, at 78 percent. (A student must pass eight Regents exams to earn an advanced diploma.)

Each of the top 10 districts in the overall standings also ranks sixth or better in at least one subject. Fayetteville-Manlius is the runner-up to Pittsford in English/foreign languages and science. Honeoye Falls-Lima is second in social studies.

And all of the top 10 school systems have posted advanced-diploma rates that are better than 60 percent. The Upstate average is 42 percent.

The Upstate rankings have also been subdivided into standings for eight smaller geographic areas.

Business First issued academic rankings for two of those areas earlier this year (Western New York and the Rochester Area), which can be found in a separate publication, the 2013-2014 Guide to Western New York Schools. (Copies can be obtained by calling Business First's circulation department at 716-541-1638.)

The following are the three top-rated districts in each of Upstate's eight markets:

Albany Area: Bethlehem, Niskayuna, North Colonie.

Binghamton-Elmira Area: Vestal, Maine-Endwell, Owego-Apalachin.

Plattsburgh Area: Chazy, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake.

Rochester Area: Pittsford, Honeoye Falls-Lima, Brighton.

Syracuse Area: Fayetteville-Manlius, Skaneateles, Cazenovia.

Utica-Rome Area: New Hartford, Clinton, Whitesboro.

Watertown Area: Potsdam, Beaver River, Canton.

Western New York (Buffalo-Niagara Falls Area): Williamsville, East Aurora, Clarence.

Three of these markets -- the Albany Area, Rochester Area and Western New York -- each boast six of Upstate's top 25 school systems.

The Syracuse Area has five entries in the top 25, while Binghamton-Elmira and Utica-Rome have one apiece.

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