By Kristin Schultz
Niskayuna and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Senior High Schools were named Friday as Reward Schools by state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. This is Niskayuna’s fourth consecutive year on the list. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has also been recognized for at least the past four years.
Across the state, 185 schools received the designation, including 79 in the New York City public school system, 18 public charter and 88 public schools statewide.
The Reward Schools program is more than a measure of overall achievement. The state measures total achievement in math and English language arts against the achievement of specific subgroups within the same school.
According to the state, a Reward School must be among the top 20 percent of schools for English language arts and math performance or be among the top 10 percent of schools who have made gains in ELA and math performance.
Additionally, Reward Schools must have made Adequate Yearly Progress for all groups of students as well as not having large performance gaps between groups of students.
“We are pleased and honored with that distinction,” said Niskayuna principal John Rickert. “It speaks to the achievement of all students. It’s a source of pride. It’s not just a statement of our highest achievers, but a reflection of all our students doing well.”
Rickert went on to recognize staff members who put in the extra time with students to help them succeed.
“Their work often goes unnoticed, and they’re not going to call attention to the work they’re doing,” he said. “But they know it, and the kids know it.”
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake principal Timothy Brunson is equally pleased and proud of the distinction.
“The academic achievement of our students is a priority, and our faculty and staff have dedicated a great deal of time and energy to continually meet high standards,” Brunson said. “We are fortunate to work in a school district that is supported by dedicated parents and community members and where our students are encouraged to focus on success.”