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New rankings place City Honors 23rd in state, 167th in U.S.

City Honors School ranked as the 23rd best high school in New York State - tops in the Buffalo region - in the latest rankings of the nation's high schools by U.S. News & World Report.

The list, released earlier this week, also placed City Honors as No. 167 among more than 22,000 high schools across the United States.

Other local schools on the list of best high schools in the state were: Williamsville North, No. 67; East Aurora, No. 77; Williamsville South, No. 79; Orchard Park, No. 90; Hamburg, No. 93; and Williamsville East, No. 95, rounding out area schools among the top 100.

City Honors,  on East North Street, includes grades 5 through 12 and has an enrollment of 1,069. Known for its rigorous International Baccalaureate program that stresses higher standards and critical thinking, City Honors has a graduation rate of 98 percent.

The rankings are based on performance on state tests and how well schools prepare students for college.

When asked about the rankings, City Honors Principal William Kresse said: "We don't build our program around it, but it's a very nice acknowledgement that our students are taking on challenging coursework - and exceeding at it."

While City Honors received a "gold medal" from the national publication, the school has dropped in the rankings.
The high school, for example, ranked No. 90 among U.S. high schools in 2009; rose to No. 23 in 2012; and went down to No. 75 in 2014, before falling to No. 167 this year.

Kresse speculated that a lot of that had to do with the methodology of the rankings and what information U.S. News decides to include.

This year, for example, U.S. News gathered no information on the International Baccalaureate exams, so that information was excluded from the formulas used to rank schools.

"Those are half of the college-level courses the students take, so it affects how we appear in the metrics significantly," Kresse said.

Still, the prominent national rankings shows why there's so much competition to get into City Honors and why recent changes in admissions practices at City Honors have stirred up so much emotion. The district has made a series of changes in admissions to increase access to the school and force more racial diversity.

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