By FRAN MAYE
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is the top school district in Pennsylvania, according to rankings released by the Pittsburgh Business Times this week. It’s the latest in a number of rankings that puts Unionville at or near the top in academic excellence statewide.
“Everyone at UCFSD works hard, every day, to ensure that our students have the best opportunities for success,” said John Sanville, superintendent at Unionville-Chadds Ford School District that has 4,100 students. “This approach rewards achievements of all kinds and on all levels — and we do our best to acknowledge each one. When our efforts are recognized at the state level we are both humbled and gratified that our pedagogical instincts have been on target.”
The ranking is based on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSSA) exams in all 500 Pennsylvania school districts. PSSA scores are generally considered a reliable predictor of future success. PSSAs measure the performance of the entire class and provide a measurement of how an overall class is performing. The formula ranks the school districts based on three years of state standardized test scores, giving the most weight to the current year. It measures student success in reading, writing, science and math.
Sanville said, however, that rankings tell just a portion of the story.
“Rankings play a role in determining the value of a school district but are not the only measure of success,” he said. “UCFSD is honored to be named number one in the commonwealth and will carry that banner proudly. However, we will not rest on our laurels as we know that that the hard work of providing students with a solid education takes place every day in every classroom in every school. We are dedicated to ensuring that every student in UCFSD has access to the best learning opportunities possible.”
Unionville has a 1:12 teacher-to-student ratio and each year, more than 95 percent of seniors take the SAT exams. More than 92 percent of all graduating seniors at U-CF pursue some form of higher education. This is much higher than the national rate of less than 60 percent, according to a comprehensive report entitled “Knocking on the College Door, Projections of High School Graduates” by Western Interstate commission for Higher Education.
Sanville credited classroom teachers, staff, students, parents and local residents for the district’s recent success.
“Alexandre Dumas said it best: Nothing succeeds like success,” he said. “UCFSD did not earn the top spot overnight because academic achievement is a process not a goal unto itself. The hard work and dedication of everyone at UCFSD has contributed to creating a learning environment that rewards accomplishments of all kinds. We are humbled by the recognition and grateful for the efforts of the many at UCFSD who embody the spirit of excellence.”
Recently, U.S. News and World Reports ranked the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District as one of the best school districts in the nation based on a study of 21,035 school districts in the nation. And schooldigger.com ranked the district number four out of 560 Pennsylvania school districts (including charter schools).
Other Chester County school districts were ranked in the top 50 in the state, including Great Valley which was ranked 11th, Downingtown ranked 22nd, Spring-Ford was 28th, West Chester Area School District was ranked 33rd, Owen J. Roberts ranked 41st, and Avon Grove ranked 47th.