As 2008 quickly draws to a close, I have the pleasure of reflecting on the significant events and accomplishments of a school district and community that has made the education of its children its number one priority. There is no greater gift that a community can give to ensure the future of our nation. Unlike the current stock market, the investment you make in your school district pays real dividends, as is evidenced by our high rate of early college acceptances for the Class of 2009. The December issue of U.S. News & World Report has also confirmed your investment, as it recognized The Wheatley School on its list of 100 best high schools in the country.

Being somewhat of a data junkie, I decided to drill down into the data that was used to identify Wheatley on this prestigious list. Reviewing the methodology, I became even more impressed that our school district was identified. No, this is not the Newsweek list that has been based solely on the average number of Advanced Placement (AP) exams or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams taken by a graduating class. To identify the schools that were ultimately on the list, U.S. News & World Report used a multi-step selection process, with three filters. Schools passing through the first filter were identified as performing better than statistically expected, based upon mastery rates on English and Mathematics High School examinations (e.g. the Regents exams were used for New York State schools). Those schools performing greater than one standard deviation above the predicted range were then submitted for review through the second filter, a breadth of access test. This is a statistic that reflects the percentage of students in the graduating class passing at least one AP or IB test, Finally, those schools which passed through the second filter were analyzed by the third and final filter, a depth of access test. The depth of access test reflects the average number of AP or IB tests passed by the graduating class. Data from 21,069 high schools across the country were examined and ranked to determine the gold, silver and bronze medal high schools. The Wheatley School, identified in the top 100 schools, graciously accepts its gold medal and attributes this honor to its dedicated staff in all three schools, hardworking students and supportive parents and community.

Next year promises to be an economic challenge as we begin to build the 2009-10 budget in a climate of fiscal gloom. You have my commitment that the budget presented will include only those items necessary to maintain the quality of our education and the health and safety of our students and staff, ensuring that our programs and services will retain their investment value for the future of our students.

Be sure to attend the Jan. 12 Economic Summit designed to explore ideas on how we can work together with neighboring school districts to tackle our fiscal challenges. Details of the Economic Summit will be posted on our district's website at www.ewsdonline.org.

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