There are several approaches you can take when evaluating schools, and some of them are better than others. The important thing is to make sure you look at schools before you buy a house if you have school age children, or are planning on having kids.
There are a whole host of ranking tools out there, including GreatSchools.org and US News and World Reports. These are the main two, but they have an inherent limitation in that they mostly use test scores to rank schools.
Test scores really just measure how wealthy a community is, and there’s a lot of evidence available that a school’s average test scores aren’t that important in determining the quality of instruction. Nonetheless, these tools are the easiest way to get a snapshot of how a school performs. When you look at school rankings you’ll find that schools in the affluent Eastside neighborhoods such as Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, North Shore and the like are ranked very high. Some Seattle pubic schools are just as good.
There are much better ways to evaluate schools, but they tend to vary district by district. What you really need to do is jump and talk to parents at each school, but that can be hard to do.
For Seattle, there’s a really great resource to find the best schools Seattle and to find the best elementary schools in Seattle. This website for RE/MAX real estate agent Justin Vander Pol really gives great information that the test-based rankings can’t provide. http://jvpre.com/how-to-find-the-best-schools-in-seattle/
Go to the website in the links just provided and read about how to use the Seattle Schools Climate Survey and School Report to get beyond test scores. This is a very valuable resource that every parent in Seattle should read when trying to figure out Seattle school rankings.
Now that you know the best way to evaluate schools you can start shopping for a home in a neighborhood you love. A home may seem like the biggest investment of your life, but your child’s education may be even bigger and more important.