For the fourth time in a row, Upper St. Clair School District is No. 1 on the Business Times’ Honor Roll ranking of regional school districts, part of the 2023 Guide to Southwestern Pennsylvania Schools.

The ranking looks at three years of state standardized test scores and ranks 105 regional school districts from highest scoring to lowest based on a proprietary formula.

This is the second ranking we’ve done this ranking since testing was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic, which resulted in no annual ranking in 2021. Testing resumed in spring 2021 and data from 2022, 2021 and 2019 is included in this year’s formula.

This year’s Honor Roll ranking of school districts is based on the past three years of available standardized test scores (2022, 2021, 2019 for grades 3-8 (PSSAs) and high school (Keystone Exams). Counties included: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland.

The top two remained unchanged, with Fox Chapel Area School District in a strong second behind Upper St. Clair. Positions three through nine on the ranking were the same districts in a shuffled order, with Peters Township School District moving up two spots to rank No. 3. Penn-Trafford School District was the newcomer to the top 10.

Check back in this story later for links to more rankings, stories about the top districts and a look at the way high schools are preparing students to enter the workforce, as well as Q&As with administrators.

Methodology for 2023 Guide to Southwestern Pennsylvania Schools

All available Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores for math, English and science and Keystones for literature, algebra and biology from the past three years are included in the formula. The exception is the 2021 and 2022 Keystones. Many districts had missing data for the 2022 biology test and the 2021 literature test, so those data points are excluded from this year’s Keystone ranks. All grades (three through eight and the Keystone exams for high school proficiency) receive math and reading scores; science scores also are included for fourth, eighth and the Keystones.

The rankings are based on a district’s percentage of students placing in the top two standardized test categories. That score is then compared to its departure from the average for the set. This is also known as a standard score, or “z-score,” a measurement of the number of standard deviations a district scored above or below the mean for the data set being examined. The z-scores for each component in a grade are summed to create a grade score. The sum of all the grade scores makes up a district’s overall score.

Written by Ethan Lott