WAYNE COUNTY - Two local school districts placed in the top 15 of 434 Pennsylvania school districts in a study of outperforming expectations.

Wayne Highlands placed fifth in the state and Wallenpaupack Area came in at 13. Western Wayne was listed as 76, which is in the top 20 percent.

The study was performed by the research director of the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Most of the rankings are based on standardized test scores and the answer the question, “which school or district has the highest-scoring students?” according to the Pittsburgh publication.

The ranking, the publication says, answers the question, “Which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics?”

The publication says it is widely acknowledged the economic situation of a student is one of the strongest predictors of how well he or she will perform academically — a low percentage of economically disadvantaged students generally results in a high percentage of top performances on the state’s standardized tests.

This rank takes the statewide honor roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula.

A district finishing high on this rank is well above expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Gregory Frigoletto, superintendent of Wayne Highlands, said he was proud of the district's achievement.

"We have high expectations of all the students," said the superintendent, regardless of their household's income.

About 45 percent of the district's students are in the free and reduced lunch program. In some district buildings it's 50 percent.

Frigoletto credited the students, teachers, staff and administrators for the students' top achievements.

The superintendent noted the demands in education are increasing at an exponential rate and it's important for the district to keep up with, meet and even exceed state requirements.

"It's a constant evolution," Frigoletto said.

The superintendent said the district and students embrace challenges and meet them head-on.

"We've done it that way for a long time," he said. "We're very proud of our achievements and it speaks highly of the district."

Wallenpaupack Area Superintendent Michael Silsby said that in his opinion the Pittsburgh statistics are a true reflection of student performance, as it takes demographics into consideration.

Wallenpaupack was 13 among 434 districts.

"I was very glad to see that," Silsby said. He added, "I think it's a very good way to analyze school districts," Silsby said.

Wallenpaupack Area has about 55 percent of its students in the reduced-lunch program, a 16 percent jump over the past five years.

Given those statistics one may think that Wallenpaupack would be listed low, but that's not the case, Silsby said.

"Our results are a credit to our teachers and students and parents and administration. Credit goes to all parties involved," said the superintendent.

Western Wayne Superintendent Clay LaCoe said the district is in "good stead," as it finished in the top 20 percent of the study.

Like Silsby, LaCoe said the credit goes to the students, faculty, staff and parents.

"The students do the work," LaCoe added.

District-wide, Western Wayne has 48 percent of its students in the free and reduced-lunch program.