[From the sandbox] Choosing a school when moving to the USA

[From the sandbox] Choosing a school when moving to the USA

Many people with children who are planning to move to the United States have heard of the need to carefully select their area of ​​residence. It is especially important to understand which schools belong to the selected address.

After moving the head usually goes around and there is no time to understand the intricacies. It is important to understand and remember the following: websites of real estate agencies and aggregators like Zillow do not provide up-to-date and correct information about the belonging of a specific address to a specific school!

Below is a step-by-step guide for identifying schools linked to a specific address and analyzing these schools.


First, a small cheat sheet (information may vary slightly for different states):

Elementary School - c K (Kindergarten) to 5th grade (from 5/6 to 10/11 years)

Middle School - from 6th to 8th grade (from 11 to 14/15 years old)

High School - from grade 9 to grade 12 (from 15 to 18 years old)

K-8 - the combined Elementary + Middle, is more common in areas of new development and sparsely populated areas.

Charter school - charter schools. Private schools in state funding. Require a separate story. In short, a good charter school get a draw. Therefore, they can not be guided, as the school "by default"

Magnet school - specialized schools with additional subjects.

Sometimes it is possible to study in one school of all ages K-12 (more often in different buildings). It is important to understand that in this case school rankings will most often refer to High School.

In any case, you need to carefully read and check all the information in each case.

1) Certainly one of the most convenient sites for real estate search is www.zillow.com

With it, you can start the search. The interface of the site is intuitive, but the boundaries of the areas belonging to schools are not fully and not always correctly identified.

For the initial acquaintance, you can make a filter on the rating of schools, turning off private, charter and choosing a rating of more than 7. Decent areas are already visible by the concentration of good schools. Please note that Zillow uses site data www.greatschools.org , the interpretation of which is a separate conversation.

So, we have roughly defined the area where we want to live. Turning on the filter for the price of rent or purchase, we are sadly convinced that there are very few options.

But it is important to make sure that the options that are available suit us.

We look information about the selected object:

In this case, the work on checking the correctness of the information about the school was done by the agent. And his information confirms Zillow data. This is a fairly rare option, but even in this case, I recommend to verify the correctness of the information.

Another picture is often seen:

Here is a strange situation. Only elementary and middle are listed on Zillow. The agent gives three schools, but the Middle school is another.

Let's try to figure out and find these schools

Moving on to the next step:

2) Determine the county we are interested in.

County is the minimum autonomous territorial entity in the United States. There are more than 3000 pieces. They are responsible for the schools in their territory. The biggest problem is that county often has unique sites, registration systems, accounting, etc.

Very often, counties divide one city into several parts. Sometimes in a rather unexpected way. Orlando (FL) separation example:

As you can see, Orlando is divided into 3 counties. And 3 more counties cover distant suburbs.
You can define a county using the service www.getzips.com/zip.htm or similar.

I am sure that everyone knows what a ZIP is, but I remind you that this is a five-digit zip code, usually indicated at the end of the address, after the name of the state. In the examples above, ZIP 32828 and 32746.
On the above resource, make sure it's Orange County and Seminole County

3) We are looking for a link to the service of determining whether schools belong to an address. Due to the fact that all county sites are different and oversaturated with information, it is often difficult to quickly find the path to the service. The easiest option is to type in Google request, such as: " orange county school enrollment "

Google helpfully slips the desired link. Go through it and fill out the form. It seems that everything is obvious here, but here the lack of a unified approach begins to manifest itself and bugs and glitches appear. Sometimes there is a case sensitivity, extra spaces, etc.

If any particular house fails to “punch”, you need to check a pair of neighbors, taking the address from the same Zillow.

There is also an alternative option - to find a map of school zones on the county site, but there it is often difficult to clearly define the boundaries.

Fill out and get a list of schools:

In this case, it is clear that for Elementary and Middle the address is served by one school: Wedgefield, which is PK-8, i.e. takes children from kindergarten to grade 8 inclusive.

For Seminole County, the picture is completely different:

Please note that the actual situation does not coincide with the data of the agent, nor with the data of the Zillow site.

Moreover, for Elementary a certain Region2 is specified. This means that several Elementary schools are tied to this address at once. A specific list is obtained by clicking on the link:

Specifically, for the 2nd region - three Elementary at once, and one of them is Magnet - i.e. with specialization.

Unfortunately, it usually happens that these schools are very different in quality. Parents can choose, but when places end in a good school, distribution by lot begins. In short, if there is a bad school on the list, and you start to study from the middle of the year, there are very high chances that you will fall for the worse because there will be no places in good schools.

Now you need to check the quality of schools. To do this, go to the next step.

4) We break through the school on the rating sites. In the US, there are several popular sites for assessing schools, the methods of which differ. It is worth paying attention to the following:


Each site has pros and cons. Analysis of the school on all sites provides an integrated assessment.

Fortunately, Google itself links the links:

Please note that Schooldigger is the least popular site and does not always appear on the first page. But, in this case, we are lucky and the links go in a row.

The same problem is that due to the popularity of some names, there may be several schools with the same name in different states.You need to closely monitor this, paying attention to the County.

Let's try to consider the result.

5) Niche.com

Many realtors are guided by Niche when they promise an “A-rated School”

However, the problem is that Niche rating is integral and depends only partially on academic success. It is evident that this school has A + only in diversity. Implied ethnic composition: Latin, Black American, etc.

Below you can see more:

Also an important indicator “Free or Reduced Lunch” is an indirect indicator of income level. The smaller this indicator, the better.

6) Now, see Greatschool

Here, the assessment is on a 10-point scale. 4/10 is bad.

This site has the most reviews, where parents and students give a grade to the school. You need to pay attention to this too.

If you watch school 9/10 or 10/10 - read the reviews carefully. Often parents complain that for good grades children have a lot of pressure. Describe bouling, etc.

7) Well, and, finally, the least popular rating on schooldigger.

I like this site because it’s best to see academic results. The position of the school in the overall statewide ranking is also visible: 1451 out of all 2118 Elementary schools in all of Florida. Bad.

As you can see, the realtor in this case was trying to mislead.

Indeed, at 4540 Messina Dr, Lake Mary, FL 32746 there is a small chance to get into a good Lake Mary Elementary School, but it’s much more likely to be in a bad Wicklow Elementary.

School Digger is also interesting because it allows you to compare different counties and districts, sorting them by school ratings. Find the best schools in various cuts, etc.

With it, you can select several ZIP files for which you are already looking for a rental or sale on Zillow or on Craiglist .

For example, you can see the ranking of school districts all over Florida:

Unfortunately, there is no universal solution. You always have to make compromises.

Have a nice move and search!

Source text: [From the sandbox] Choosing a school when moving to the USA