OFA Ranks Among Best High Schools, in Top 9.3 Percent in United States

(MAY 3) - In a recent U.S. News and World Report article, Owego Free Academy was ranked by the publication as the 159th best high school in New York state, when looking at student-to-teacher ratio, college readiness, math and English average proficiency scores and performance of low-income students.

OFA ranked in the top 14 percent in the state among 1,149 schools that were included in the report. Only the top 176 schools in New York state were ranked by number.

U.S. News also ranked schools nationwide, and OFA’s placement was even higher – in the top 9.3 percent of about 21,000 schools ranked. OFA ranked 1,953rd of those schools.

As a result of this distinction, OFA will receive a “U.S. News and World Report Best High Schools Silver Award” badge, which OA will display on the district’s Web site.

New York ranked second nationally - behind only California - in the number of gold medal high schools. U.S. News and World Report, which collected and evaluated data on more than 21,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia, awarded 65 gold medals to public high schools in New York. California, meanwhile, is home to 94. (Nebraska was the only state not to report data.)

OFA’s ranking in New York state stresses overall test performance, performance of disadvantaged (low-income) students, and relies heavily on participation and performance in Advanced Placement tests, said Dr. Bill Russell, OA superintendent.

“This validates my comments at our last Board of Education meeting about AP tests becoming the coin of the realm,” Dr. Russell said. “At the No. 1 high school in the nation (on this ranking), students averaged 13.5 AP exams, which is incredible.”

The study shows that OFA has a 98 percent proficiency in English and a 95 percent proficiency in math. OFA scored particularly well on the performance of its “disadvantaged (low-income)” students, 92.5 percent of whom were proficient, trailing their more affluent peers by only 4.5 percentage points. The study also showed that OFA students who took AP exams had an 85 percent passing rate.

“To achieve a top-10 percent ranking among the best high schools in the nation is a real accomplishment and a genuine source of pride for our students and their families, as well as for our teachers and other staff,” Dr. Russell said. “Our students work hard, and we have a fine teaching staff. This Silver Award certainly acknowledges all of their great efforts.”

The study by U.S. News comes on the heels of a nationwide report issued by the independent publication, Education Week, which ranked New York's public-education system third best in the nation behind only Maryland and Massachusetts. The U.S. News report follows, too, a Newsweek/The Daily Beast study released last year that found New York state was home to 10 percent of the nation's top public high schools.

Three other school districts in this region also received high rankings. Vestal was 94th in New York state, Johnson City was 126th and Norwich was 170th.

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