When searching for a home in the bay area, the first question to ask is, “What are the local schools and how are they rated?

Whether you have have kids or not, school ratings should be a top priority because in the Bay Area, good schools are a key determinant of home values.

A home with good schools will be more desirable, will appreciate faster and be worth more when it comes time to sell.   … Not to mention provide a good education for your children.

With so many “school websites” out there,  where do you start?  What do you look for?

Here is a really basic “quick a dirty” site that I like to use when I know the name of the school I want details about, or if I want to get a quick list of schools in a particular city or zip code:  http://school-ratings.com/

Aside for the quick search functionality, this site actually has a few random, but very neat “getting started” features that I like to recommend to clients.  The first is their mapping feature:

Pick you area and start exploring the map!

All of the schools are mapped on a green (good) to red (bad) scale.  It’s a little Christmas’y, but it does the job to quickly get the point across… showing which are the bad areas vs good areas.  The brighter the green… the better the schools, and anything that is not SOME shade of green is, generally speaking, an area you don’t want to be in.

Also, here are their county summary pages:

Again, just pick the one that applies to you.

This is step 2, a super fast way to go down the list of cities in your county of interest and get a feel for school rankings by school, separated into districts.

There are many sites out there, but I like this site because I find it quick, and easy to use.

The main information they provide for each school if you wanted to see more information:

  1. The State Rank is determined by a school’s API Score in  comparison to all other schools in California. (1 is the worst, 10 is the best). An equal number of schools occupy each rank. * This rank comes from the 2010 California Academic Performance Index (API) Base report.
  2. The API Score is a number between 200 and 1000 that reflects a school’s performance on statewide student assessments administered in 2010.
  3. Alternative Schools receive APIs but do not receive ranks
  4. Parent Education is the average of all responses where “1” represents “Not a high school graduate” and “5” represents “Graduate school.”

Then, if you click on the link for a specific school, you’ll get a little more statistical information.

If you are looking to do further research on a particular school or district, you’ll need to move on to other sites:

Finally, you can also find all of the school info online directly from the Gov’t site  (which is going to have all of the latest information).  Some people find this preferable because many sites are still using the prior year’s numbers for API and state rank.

So lets review:

  1. Start with the mapping feature and play around on the site.
  2. Then zero in on the county you’re looking to live in and the cities you are considering and see how the schools in those cities are ranked.
  3. Now that you’re getting a better feel of various areas, if it’s not overwhelming, check out some of the other links and start visiting sites with more statistical information to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

A random comment:  I frequently have buyers tell me “we don’t have kids, so we don’t care”, or ” a score doesn’t make a good school, there are so many other factors.”  And though I completely agree, what matters is not what I think or you think … what matters to the resale value of your home is what the general consensus is.  And the general consensus is better score = better schools = better home.

This should be plenty to get you started, but I am always available if you have any questions, or would like some additional information.  If you have any questions about your local schools, or are thinking of buying or selling a home in the bay area, CONTACT US today for a free consultation!