Edited from original post in 2014
Are home buyers obsessed with school ratings on real estate websites?
In 2023, they still are!
Most real estate sites now have data on local schools and show ratings from 1-10 on the overall performance (test results) and then give summaries and some parent comments on actual experiences. For example, take a look at Zillow for information from GreatSchools.org (which, by the way, does seem to be surrounded by plenty of advertising).
I understand that buyers put a lot of weight on school rankings. These rankings are based on test results and Fairfax County Public Schools is obsessed with these days. Unfortunately, you are left making decisions using this data if you don’t spend some time researching current data like student population or current class size.
And sometimes these rankings can give the casual reader the impression there is something wrong with a particular school. Centreville High, in this example, appears to be the bad-apple but if you take a closer look you will find a dynamic school with the 2013 State Champion Football team, Performing Arts program, AP classes, high graduation rate and college acceptance.
Living in Vienna Virginia, my personal experience has been with Fairfax County Public Schools. Some of my clients have children that go to Arlington Schools, Falls Church City Schools and Alexandria City Schools with really positive results.
If you really want to do your “due diligence” on a particular school so that you can be truly confident that you are buying a home in the best possible neighborhood, then please use these ratings as guides and then check out the school yourself. Fairfax Schools all have websites now (as every school must have these days) so go and check them out. Investigate the PTA link which probably has after-school info or planned events for the year.
Yes, my kids graduated from FCPS and…
As a personal aside, both of my kids went 1-12 through FCPS as did many of the kids they started out with in Elementary School. And yes, we did support them by teaching them how to read at home, helping with homework and projects, asking about school, events, friends, and sports.
In my opinion, it is up to your child and your consistent support, especially in our complex “post-Covid” world of constant distractions from our SmartPhones.
My kids and most of their FCPS friends went to college and graduated too. One of mine went to the University of Dayton and works for Booz Allen, and the other went to the College of William and Mary and is now in a Master’s Program there. FYI… they’re both smarter than me!
Here are my home buyer tips regarding schools:
- Check out the individual school websites
- Drive by the schools and look at the buildings and locations,
- Give a call to the office, and then set up an appointment with the Principal (only 15 minutes)
- Look at PTA activities and events planned on their website (if they have one)
- Pick out two or three schools and then focus your home search on those communities
So, plan to do a little more work than simply requiring that the school must have an 8 or above rating because your experience will only be as good as your involvement in your child’s experience.