According to Academic Performance Index (API) Report for Santa Clara County Public Schools in 2012, published by California Department of Education, the Palo Alto Unified and Los Altos School districts API scores were as follows:
Palo Alto K-8 average API score was 933
Los Altos K-8 average API score was 968
Palo Alto High API score was 905 and Gunn was 918
Los Altos High API score was 888 and M.V. was 865
But here is some food for thought; According to Newsweekâ€™s â€œAmericaâ€™s Best High Schoolsâ€, published May 2013, where they published a list of the top 2000 public high schools out of approx. 27,460 public high schools in the United States, our schools raking were as follows:
Los Altos High # 132
Palo Alto High # 161
Mtn View High # 229
Gunn High # 583
Other local high schools ranked in the top 2000 were: Saratoga #81, Monta Vista #103, Lynbrook #122, Cupertino #681 and Homestead #764.
Here is how they ranked the schools:
â€œNewsweek ranking highlights the best 2,000 public high schools in the nationâ€”those that have proven to be the most effective in turning out college-ready grads. The list is based on six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent), and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (5 percent).â€
Here are the links to the Newsweek high school rankings and the Santa Clara County schools API. Feel free to navigate through the school scores and rankings, before you make your decision on where to purchase your next home.
High School Rankings: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/05/06/america-s-b
School APIs in SCC: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2012/2012GrthAPICo.aspx?cYear=2011
I live in the area you mention, and I think some parents put more focus on the high school, and then the middle school, perhaps due in part to the many private schools locally.
Some parents have also mentioned a "Donut Effect" where school scores are good in one area, and over the span of several years surrounding area scores start increasing as well.
All the best,
My personal experience on this is that I lived in a neighborhood in San Jose which was zoned to a good high school (Evergreen Valley high , API: 865), great middle school (Chaboya, API: 943) and an "up and coming" elementary school (Laurelwood, API: 886). My home value did not grow nearly as fast as the areas that had a good elementary school (JFS, API:961) and middle school but a so-so high school (Silver Creek HS, API: 782). Reason? Most people buying homes had young children and bet on idea that they will be a position to buy into a better high school (public or private in a decade).
I also absolutely agree that high school API is the average of all the feeder schools, so there is bound to be some drop when a high school caters to a few areas which may have some socially disadvantaged kids (absentee parents, non english speakers etc). That does not mean the school itself is lacking on any level and it could be good for kids to have a diverse peer group. Also there are so many other things to consider in a high school such as AP classes, AP participation, class overcrowding, drug activity etc. Lets face it - EVERY school has some drug activity (incl. Paly, Gunn, Mission, LHS, Harker etc) - the lower end has pot, the higher end have pill parties with a whole range in between - but how pervasive it is in Jr.'s school, does Jr. pick good friends etc.?
To sum up - unless Jr. is ready for high school in the next couple of years, elementary school quality will likely get higher consideration. I am guessing more people buy homes when their kids are young simply because because of what happened to us. I suppose the agents in this forum can enlighten us better on this.
First, the High School score is an average of all the feeder schools. A high score most likely means the elementary and middle schools are also high. Second, home buyers strongly prefer to establish themselves and their kids in a neighborhood where they build and retain friendships until they leave home for college. There is clearly a premium for homes with high API scores for K-12. Unfortunately, this usually means homes sell for over $1M.
Buyers looking for homes under $1M then shop for elementary schools with high scores. Lots of neighborhoods, but it takes some effort to find them. Many of the "second-tier" high schools provide great programs and AP classes for motivated students. I suspect most stay in the neighborhood so they don't disrupt their kids life.
I have chatted with a handful of colleagues at work on this topic...
At the extreme, there are folks (with HS-aged kids) who will only consider homes that map to Gunn, Monta Vista, or Mission San Jose...to a point where they consider schools like Paly or Homestead as substandard. Yikes! Their focus is clearly on the HS, but it just so happens that the Elementary and Middle Schools are also pretty solid.
A few others (who have younger kids) focus on K-8 and assume they may eventually move or will send their kids to private school for HS. Because high-school boundary cover a broader, more diverse set of neighborhoods, it's common for many neighborhoods to have K-8 schools that score well but then map to HSs that don't score as well. Examples: San Carlos White Oaks: San Carlos SD vs. Sequoia HS, West Menlo Park: Las Lomitas SD vs. Menlo-Atherton HS, Emerald Hills: Roy Cloud vs. Woodside HS.
Likely no clear cut answer, but was curious what others think.
Thanks for all the great perspectives.
"...all else being equal, what has more of an influence on home values: elementary school, middle school, or high school?..."
As people are deciding how much they are willing to spend on a property in a given school district, which school level are your buyers placing more weight in the API?
I think that people who are O.C. about the schools, are missing the point that most of credit/blame belongs on the Parents.
I think that all three cities are fantastic places to live, thanks entirely to the fantastic people who live there.
In general, students absolutely don't need to attend the top API schools to be successful in life. However, students can attend just any GOOD, DECENT school (i.e. if one buys homes in the range of $800k to $1 million neighborhoods, most schools tend to be decently good), but they must take deep interests in academic performances and other extra curricular activities at schools or in communities, and BE LEADERS, BE A CRITICAL THINKERS, etc, they will do well in life. There are just too many students with perfect grades out there, and do nothing else or minimum activities, or being passive followers; these people don't tend to do that well.
Now having said all that, actually the most important criteria for any child to be successful in school or life is the PARENTS, not the top API schools. The parents need to provide absolute support, attention, participation and encouragement while the child's in school and engaged in community activities. Just stop paying the overpriced homes just because those homes are in the schools with top API scores.
I really like this thought provoking question, and one I actually intend to follow.
One would think that the trickle up effect of school scores would affect the middle then the high school scores. In my opinion, schools scores change just like everything else. The economy, demographics, laws, management, teachers, and especially the parents involvement.
I tend to agree with you that the middle school is short term, and the students are going through a lot of physical changes which affect their learning. It is also a foundation for higher education. With that said, in my opinion, high school is very important, because it is now the time for students to get their "act" together. It is also what colleges will be looking at when evaluating their future applicants.
I believe educated parents who focus on their children going on to higher education are aware of this and may be more inclined to purchase in a higher rating high school.
As for home values that would be an interesting statical analysis.