New Canaan Public Schools was recently designated by GreatSchools and Forbes magazine as the nation's second top school district in the housing price category of $800,000 or more. Last year's list ranked New Canaan third when compared with similar towns around the country.
"Last year was the first time we had been given this honor. It really is great news," Board of Education Chairman Nick Williams said. "I've always considered our district to be one of the top performing districts in the country and I think this is independent evidence proving that notion."
New Canaan also beat out neighboring Connecticut towns including Westport and Darien, who rank fifth and sixth respectively.
"We were very pleased that for the second year in a row that we were ranked among a number of truly outstanding districts," Superintendent David Abbey said. "It's a testament to the great work our teachers and administrators are doing along with the tremendous support we get from the New Canaan community. Obviously, the fact that our students are doing well is indicative of their talent and hard work as well."
GreatSchools agrees with Dr. Abbey as they praised New Canaan in the rankings lauding the students, town and administration.
"In 2010, West School (Pre-K to 4) had the highest reading, writing, and math scores in the state, according to Connecticut Mastery Test, while East School (also an elementary) ranked number 13," GreatSchools reported. "From sports to theater, New Canaan High School students are also well-rounded. Students have posted superior performances in lacrosse, musical production, and academics. No wonder New Canaan High landed a Silver Medal in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 list of America's Best High Schools. Their brainiac achievements may be due in part to an outstanding school library, lauded by the American Association of School Librarians and the Connecticut Association of School Librarians for its excellent media program in 2010."
In addition to the actual honor itself, Williams was very touched by the comments in the piece.
"The comments that are contained are just very positive," Williams said. "So we are delighted at this accolade and the product of the vision and dedication realized by our administration and teachers and staff, as well as our students."
The study gave New Canaan a 91.57 educational quality score out of a possible 100, which determined the final order of the rankings.
GreatSchools' methodology in developing the list included a variety of different standards. One core criteria is the "city rating," which takes into account a student enrollment-weighted average of GreatSchools' rating system on each school in town. That system is a 1-10 rating and all of New Canaan's Public Schools have a score of 9 or 10. Additionally, they take into account the number of public and charter schools, total population, median home value and unemployment rates.
"That is the great thing about it, it's not just guesswork," Williams said about the ranking. "This was very calculated and scientific."
In developing the educational quality score, they used the National Assessment of Educational Progress' (NAEP) statistics on student performance. NAEP assessments have an advantage in serving as a standard metric for all states in the country because by incorporating data from fourth, eighth and 12th grade scores every year, they essentially have a good idea of the progress students are making in that district. Using statistics from the NAEP, GreatSchools calculated an equivalent score for each city and used that along with other metrics to develop the final educational quality score.
"New Canaan should share in this accomplishment as a whole because of the support the town has shown our school district," Williams said. "People may disagree about sidewalks or road paving, but by and large there is a great reservoir of support for our schools in New Canaan."
To take a look at New Canaan's profile as well as the full list visit www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/slideshows/4022-best-cities-2011-800K-more.gs?page=2#slide.