Female students are displaying an academic edge over their male counterparts in 19 of the area's 23 public school districts.
This is according to a report released by Buffalo Business First this week, in which the percentage of female students who met the New York State Education Department's aspirational-performance standards as of June 2012 was compared against the percentage of male students to do the same.
This trend is evident in four-fifths of the 670 New York state school districts, with females outperforming males in 548 of them. The statistics are representative of all students who entered high school in fall of 2008 and graduated by June 2012.
The state's aspirational-performance standards are considered to be a measurement of a student's college and career readiness under the instruction of the curricular standards of the time. In order to meet the standards, students must complete three steps: achieve a score of 80 or higher on any Regents math exam, achieve a score of 75 or higher on the Regents English exam and graduate from high school.
In Chautauqua County, schools with a higher percentage of female aspirational-performance standards achievement have a performance gap ranging from 5.55 percent in Dunkirk to 43.46 percent in Clymer. The three schools in which male students outperformed females include: Frewsburg, with a 2.42 percent gap; Pine Valley, with a 1.99 percent gap; and Ripley, with a 19.18 percent gap.
At Sherman Central School, where the performance gap favored female students by a margin of 6.25 percent, the trend had not become overly apparent to the district in its analysis of student achievement. According to Kaine Kelly, superintendent, the district tends to monitor its students' academic performance by cohort or grade level - particularly at the younger grades.
District: female achievement percentage, male achievement percentage, performance gap (in favor of)
Bemus Point: 76.67 percent, 62.50 percent, 14.17 percent (female)
Brocton: 24.14 percent, 14.29 percent, 9.85 percent (female)
Cassadaga Valley: 40.91 percent, 24.56 percent, 16.35 percent (female)
Chautauqua Lake: 74.29 percent, 51.43 percent, 22.86 percent (female)
Clymer: 61.11 percent, 17.65 percent, 43.46 percent (female)
Dunkirk: 14.29 percent, 8.74 percent, 5.55 percent (female)
Falconer: 41.67 percent, 29.31 percent, 12.36 percent (female)
Forestville: 30.77 percent, 20.83 percent, 9.94 percent (female)
Fredonia: 62.96 percent, 41.43 percent, 21.53 percent (female)
Frewsburg: 26.67 percent, 29.09 percent, 2.42 percent (male)
Jamestown: 47.94 percent, 41.62 percent, 6.32 percent (female)
Panama: 47.83 percent, 27.78 percent, 20.05 percent (female)
Pine Valley: 28.57 percent, 30.56 percent, 1.99 percent (male)
Ripley: 7.14 percent, 26.32 percent, 19.18 percent (male)
Sherman: 43.75 percent, 37.50 percent, 6.25 percent (female)
Silver Creek: 56.76 percent, 32.56 percent, 24.20 percent (female)
Southwestern: 60.71 percent, 53.85 percent, 6.86 percent (female)
Westfield: 47.22 percent, 30.43 percent, 16.79 percent (female)
Cattaraugus-Little Valley: 42.86 percent, 23.40 percent, 19.46 percent (female)
Ellicottville: 47.83 percent, 45.00 percent, 2.83 percent (female)
Gowanda: 40.43 percent, 31.03 percent, 9.40 percent (female)
Randolph: 50.00 percent, 31.91 percent, 18.09 percent (female)
Salamanca: 8.62 percent, 16.33 percent, 7.71 percent (male)
"We've never really tracked male and female data specifically, and we haven't noticed anything significant that would warrant our attention," Kelly said. "If something were to stand out, and we noticed a dramatic difference, we would look into it; but I haven't noticed anything."
When asked for any notions of why the performance gap at Sherman favors its female students, Kelly surmised that being a small. rural district may have something to do with it.
"We may see a little higher performance among females," he said. "My only guess would be, being a rural and more blue-collar district, that a greater number of our boys may be preparing to enter the work force in a specific type of trade."
Bert Lictus, joint superintendent of Panama Central School and Clymer Central School, said a higher level of female academic achievement has not gone unnoticed in his districts. In addition to Clymer's largest aspirational-performance differential in Chautauqua County, the performance gap in Panama also favors females by a considerable margin of 20.05 percent.
"In general, there does appear to be a trend in the district that I'm most familiar with (Panama) in regard to females outperforming males academically," said Lictus, who only recently assumed his shared superintendency at Clymer in October. "If you look at the valedictorians and salutatorians at Panama over the past 10 years, you'll see that females have outpaced males. And you can even see that in sports, as well, where female participation seems to be stronger.
"So it's been talked about, but not really in a way where we could find a fix to even it out," he added. "I don't have the answers to why there is a gap, but we do notice it when we look at class rankings."
A total of 106,044 female students were included in Business First's 2008-12 cohort, with 40,527 - or 38.22 percent - meeting the aspirational-performance standards. The comparable figures for males included a total of 111,822 students, with 36,406 - 32.56 percent - meeting the standards.
These numbers correspond to a statewide performance gap of 5.66 percent in favor of female students.