How to find your next home with the best school for your child
I am often asked for advice by home buyers on how to research the best schools. Choosing the right school (or schools) is often the top criteria when buying a home and for a good reason! A child’s school experience can make a big difference towards their well-being and future success. When my husband and I were looking for our home, we made the neighborhood’s school our top priority, so I get how important it can be!
What makes a great school?
A great school is often the result of many factors, such as a strong principal, wonderful teachers, active parents, and a positive environment.
For many people though, a school’s rating is the top and perhaps only indicator of a great school.
Strong school ratings tell you much, but it may not give you the whole picture. I know many people who love their school even though their school is not “highly rated”, as shown in green markings through the Oregon school ratings report card. Also, not all students will thrive in a school with a strong emphasis on high academic performance. They may need a special program or environment specific to them.
Consider this checklist when researching the best school for your child
Besides school ratings, I suggest that there are other factors to consider. Below are some attributes that may help clarify the best fit for your child and family:
Programs that address specific aptitudes, interests, or learning styles e.g., music, art, hands-on learning, TAG (Talented And Gifted education), sports and physical education
After-school programs and/or day care
Racial, ethnic diversity, family demographics
PTA: involvement, sponsored events and fundraising
Philosophy and values of the school
What it feels like: the mood and spirit you want
Support of low-income resources
Magnet or charter school with a special focus (e.g., arts)
Here are sources I recommend when researching Oregon schools:
Oregon’s school’s “Accountability Details” - provides a report card based on students’ test scores and other data: Oregon Department of Education
A national school database - you can search by zip code or school: greatschools.org
Oregon School District Directory (Oregon School Board Association): School Districts in Oregon
Washington Schools Directory: School Districts in Washington
National Center for Education Statistics - gives easy access to school size and school websites: National Center for Education Statistics
Charter schools in greater Portland: Niche.com
The above data and descriptions may not tell you everything you want to know about a school. It’s good to look a bit deeper to be sure you found a good school for you.
How to find out more about a school you may like
In this competitive and low-inventory real estate market, it’s better to have a few schools on a shortlist versus focusing on that one “dream school”. Once you have a few schools you like, I suggest finding out a bit more about each school you are considering.
Here’s how you can learn more about a school:
Look at the school’s website or any online social media postings
Interview with the principal
For those with preschoolers, go to the “Kindergarten Roundup” event in the spring
Talk to parents. Ask around at a community park or kids’ sports event, or chat on the school Facebook page
Attend a PTA meeting
All of these ideas should give you a better feeling of an insiders’ view of the school; the culture, leadership, and why specific families have chosen that school.
A final comment: with all your research, just beware that any school can change over time, whether it’s through a boundary change, a new principal, or a shift in demographics. But your research should generally pay off and be worth it!
I can make your search for a new home and school easier
I know that where you live and where your children go to school can be critical to the well-being of your family. I have deep knowledge of many neighborhoods across the Portland Metro area. Where I have less knowledge, I will dig deep to get you some answers. I love to be resourceful, even if it’s finding a reliable babysitter so that you can get out of the home and seriously look at homes and schools.
I’m just a phone call, text, or email away. Let's chat!
About TD Realty and Tiffanie Danley
Using all my skills developed over 10 successful years in real estate, I make sure my clients get the best outcomes for them. I have sold more than 150 homes and I’m a top performer. Also, I’m very familiar with dozens of neighborhoods across the greater Portland area. But more importantly, my first priority is to my clients: I want to find you your next home that’s very right for you, or I want to sell your current home that gives you the best satisfaction as you move on to your next home. If you have questions about my approach, or if you want me to be a sounding board for your ideas, please let me know.