There is another consideration. If you child is truly exceptional, then a school with high scores,lots of Advance Placement courses and the like is stimulating and a great place for the child. On the other hand, if your child is closer to average, that environment may be overwhelming for the child. So the "best" schools may not be the best for every child.
First and foremost, welcome to the Lamorinda community, and I trust that your homesearch up to this point has been both fun and exciting.
Regarding the differences between the Orinda and Lafayette school districts, I agree with a few of the responses below in that all of the schools are truly exceptional. They are all winners, and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
To add some data into the mix, by looking at the state API scores (Academic Performance Index), the Orinda School District, comprised of 4 elementary schools and 1 middle school, has an overall score of 954 out of 1000. The Lafayette School District, also comprised of 4 elementary schools and 1 middle school, has an overall score of 917. All of the high schools in the area are part of a separate school district--the Acalanes School District--and Orinda's Miramonte High has a score of 928 while Lafayette's Acalanes High has a score of 902. Strictly by the numbers, Orinda scores higher, but all of these scores are outstanding.
I hope this information helps you in your search. I am a native Orindian and absolutely loved my educational experience here. One of my best friends went through the Lafayette system, and she absolutely loved her experience as well. If you'd like, I'd be happy to talk in more detail with you about the different schools and their personalities, as well as the neighborhoods that feed into each school.
All the best,
Coldwell Banker Orinda
I am actively working with a young families looking for homes in both the LaMorinda area and south Walnut Creek. Schools in these areas are some of the best in the state and it really comes down to how you feel about the home itself. I suggest to stop focusing on which school has the slightly higher stats and rather find the forever home that speaks to you and your family. Hopefully it will be a long term investment that will pay off some time in the future if and when you decide to sell, but in the meantime, it will be the place where your children grow up, make friends and you call 'home'.
I can't necessarily speak on the middle schools, because the Acalanes Union School district only includes certain high schools in the 680 corridor.
I live in Lafayette, the Burton Valley area, with 4 kids going into the Lafayette schools and couldn't be happier. If you would like any assistance in finding the perfect neighborhood for you I would love to help.
Best wishes in your home search and let me know if I can be of service to you; I am here to help.
Arturo C. Shivers, REALTOR, SFR
KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY
760 Camino Ramon, Suite 200
Danville, CA 94526
Office: (925) 855-8333 Ext. 272
Mobile: (415) 871-4239