*** UPDATED for the 2021 School Year ***
Whether you're moving to a new city or a new neighborhood, you might wonder about the quality of the schools. Fair Housing laws prohibit real estate agents from steering clients, whether toward a particular area or away from that area, based upon the buyer’s race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin. That means we will avoid giving personal opinions on school districts because a comment could be construed as influencing your housing choice based on demographic information. However, we can advise you on how to make the best well-informed decision for your family. ***Please keep in mind that the effects of COVID-19 on the 2019-2020 school year were substantial. To gain a more complete understanding of a school or school district, we recommend that you also review statistics from the 2018-2019 school year.***
For those of you who are looking for schools in Northern Virginia, you are in luck. According to Forbes Virginia was ranked 4th nationally for the overall quality of its public schools. On top of that, our region is home to 3 of the top 5 performing school districts in the state (and 4 of the top 6) according to Niche, a well-respected school rating website. What does that mean for you? The likelihood that you will find a home near a school you and your children will love is quite high. Even most of our average schools are still top performers by national standards.
Here are a few tips to help you determine which schools are the best fit for your family:
KNOW WHAT “GOOD” MEANS FOR YOU
What is your definition of a good school or a good school district? Do they offer AP courses or special education programs? Is there a variety of sports teams or clubs? Knowing what “good” means for you will help you narrow down your choices to the best options for your family's needs.
RESEARCH SCHOOL AND DISTRICT OPTIONS
Publicly available data can give a better understanding of a district and specific school. For example, the Virginia Department of Education has an excellent website. It includes information on school assessment scores, enrollment data, college and career readiness, learning climate, teacher quality, and more.
Many other third-party websites provide ratings and parent feedback. While these ratings can be useful, make sure you take the time to look at the score breakdown, not just the overall average, and review the comments. They can often be very enlightening. Here are links to a few of the most popular schools and school districts in Northern Virginia:
Arlington County: #2 of 131 in Virginia in 2021
Fairfax County: #6 of 131 in Virginia in 2021
Falls Church City: #1 of 131 in Virginia in 2021
Loudon County: #4 of 131 in Virginia in 2021
Prince William County: #27 of 131 in Virginia in 2021
Social media also provides another option, especially for people moving from out of state, to engage with other parents and ask about their experiences. Consider joining a local group for schools or school districts in your area.
Third-party websites and the MLS usually list which school is assigned for a given home. However, it is always a good idea to double-check this information on the county’s tax website. A quick internet search should lead you to this website but if you are having trouble finding it, just ask us for help.
School quality is a subjective issue so you will likely come across some conflicting opinions. While it’s good to get anecdotal information, don’t let it be the deciding factor in your school research. In addition to using all of the resources above, if you are able, consider making an appointment to visit a school in person. This can provide you with a more complete understanding of the school your child may attend.
SHARE YOUR DIRECTION
Once you’ve completed your research and know what schools or districts you are interested in or want to avoid, please tell your Realtor. He or she will take this into consideration when developing your custom home search. However, since it’s your Realtor's job to provide you with options, he or she may still present similar listings outside those boundaries that could be a good fit. So, if the schools or districts are a true deal-breaker, ensure your Realtor knows this.
WE'RE HERE TO HELP
Have additional questions? Contact us here or reach us by call or text at 904-891-4391. We'd love to assist you!