Abington Heights is only area district to make new top 500 list

By Mark Guydish - mguydish@timesleader.com
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Abington Heights was the only regional school district to make a new top 500 national ranking of public school districts, and it was low on the list: number 470. No Luzerne County districts made the list, created by alarms.org, the website for the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

And if your thinking that doesn’t sound like your typical education advocacy group, you may be right. On the website, the council bills itself as “a national trade association comprised of licensed alarm installers, contractors, and other relevant trade groups across the United States.”

“Our stated goal is to further industry education and public knowledge about home safety and security,” the site explains.

Four factors “contributed” to the rankings of 9,577 school districts: results of math and reading tests, dropout rates, school funding and area poverty rates. An introduction to the rankings concedes “that money is important,” noting “the schools that perform the best have plenty of it.”

The description of the top ranked district, Naperville Community School District 203 in Illinois, reinforces that. “Naperville is an affluent suburb of Chicago with a reputation as an excellent place to raise a family. With a high amount of revenue, stellar test scores, and a near nonexistent dropout rate, CUSD 203 is consistently ranked among the best school districts in the nation.”

The top-ranked Pennsylvania district is South Fayette Township in the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh, a district with 12 percent of enrollment deemed economically disadvantaged students — 17th lowest in the state — according to state data. South Fayette ranked 21st nationwide.

Unionville-Chadds Ford District, straddling Chester and Delaware counties outside Philadelphia, was ranked 29th. It has the lowest rate of economically disadvantaged students in the state, 4.5 percent.

All told, 48 Pennsylvania districts made the Alarms.org top 500 list, with Wilson School District the lowest ranking among them, at 494. The district is just west of Reading, and has an economically disadvantaged enrollment just shy of 30 percent.

Abington Heights, routinely one of the high-ranking schools in state test results, has economically disadvantaged enrollment of 19 percent, the 45th lowest in the state.

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By Mark Guydish

mguydish@timesleader.com

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish