Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the US, founded in 1682 by William Penn. It has a rich history, especially around the time of the American Revolution. When you visit this beautiful city, you can see the Liberty Bell and even the Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed! And along with all of that, Philadelphia has great schools.
Are Philly Schools an Option?
Parents moving to the Philadelphia area with a family will undoubtedly question if the schools in the City of Philadelphia are really an option for their children. If you rely solely on traditional school ranking sites, they’ll push your family to the suburbs, saddling you with longer commutes, more expensive real estate, and less diversity. That’s because school rankings websites like GreatSchools show low scores for many of the public elementary schools in Philadelphia. But are those scores actually reliable?
At SchoolSparrow, we gathered the raw data for public schools across the city and found that many Philadelphia public schools are actually greatly exceeding expectations, especially when it comes to standardized test scores.
Our Equitable School Rankings
SchoolSparrow rankings are normalized for parent income, so schools are ranked based on how they perform against their expected test scores. This eliminates the inherent bias towards schools in affluent areas that plagues other ranking systems.
Our system identifies schools that are located in less expensive areas, often closer to the urban core with lower commute times, (read: more time for you to spend with your family!) and more diversity.
The average list price for homes in Philadelphia is $180 per square foot.
SchoolSparrow’s 5 of the Best Public Schools in Philadelphia
We have compiled a list of “hidden gems”– schools that score high on SchoolSparrow but have low scores on other school ranking websites due to their biases. These schools are all located in the Philadelphia city limits and within affordable zip codes. Our hidden gems offer diverse learning environments and are located close to the central business district, leading to shorter commute times for families. These are truly some of the best schools in Philadelphia.
1. Kennedy C. Crossan School – Philadelphia, PA (29 minute drive to Center City)
The first Philadelphia hidden gem is a school in the Burholme neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia: Kennedy C. Crossan School.
With a score of 3/10 on GreatSchools, many families overlook this school as a viable option.
However, when you look at the data further, Crossan is one of the best schools in Philadelphia, achieving an A Grade on SchoolSparrow.
Based on parent income, the expected test score on the reading/language arts portion of standardized testing is 32. Students at Crossan actually score 61% higher than that, with an average score of 52.0.
To go along with that, Crossan School is one of the most diverse schools in Philadelphia, with a SchoolSparrow diversity score of 30 out of a possible 40.
This school district is also an affordable one, with a list price per square foot of a home being $150. This is below the $180 average in Philadelphia. The median home sale price is also the lowest on our list, at $188,900. This listing is an example of a home in close proximity to Crossan.
All of these factors make Kennedy C. Crossan a school that parents can confidently consider for their children.
Address: 7350 Bingham St, Philadelphia, PA 19111
2. Abram Jenks School – Philadelphia, PA (16 minute drive to Center City)
Abram Jenks School in Lower Moyamensing is a top 5 school on SchoolSparrow for all of Philadelphia. You’d never guess this from its GreatSchools score (5/10), but Jenks School has an A+ grade on SchoolSparrow. In other words, a 10/10.
There are many reasons for this. First of all, take a look at its standardized test performance. When adjusted for parent income, the expected score on the Reading/Language Arts section of the MAP test is 32.
Jenks students shatter this expectation, averaging a score of 72, the highest raw score on the list! This is an astounding 126% better than expectations.
Abram Jenks School has a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40.
The average list price of a home in the 19148 zip code is $249,000, and the median sale price of a home is $242,900. This listing is an example of a 2 bedroom home you can buy within these school boundaries.
Take a serious look at Abram Jenks School as a school for your child, as it’s one of the best in all of Philadelphia.
Address: 2501 S.13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
3. Watson Comly School – Philadelphia, PA (26 minute drive to Center City)
Another school with an A+ grade on SchoolSparrow is Watson Comly School. Located in the Somerton Neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia, Comly is another school that should be considered one of the very best in the city.
Comly School is a diverse school, with a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40 points.
Much like the other schools on this list, students at Watson Comly School do outstandingly well on standardized tests. Based on parent income, the expected test score of a Comly student is 31. However, the average actual test score at this school is 69, an incredible 120% better than expectations.
The 19116 zip code has a median list price per square foot of a home of $194, and the median sale price of homes is $276,200. This listing is an example of a 3 bedroom home you can buy near the school.
Don’t overlook Watson Comly School because of its 5/10 score on GreatSchools. This low rating clearly fails to reflect the awesome performance of Comly School students.
Address: 1001 Byberry Rd Philadelphia, PA 19116
4. Horatio B. Hackett School – Philadelphia, PA (12 minute drive to Center City)
Only 12 minutes from Center City, Horatio B. Hackett School in Olde Richmond is the closest school on this list to the central business district.
But that isn’t the only reason Hackett School finds itself on this list.
The main reason that Hackett School is here is its high achieving student body.
The expected test score for Horatio B. Hackett students is 31, but the actual score that students achieve is a 52 average, 65% better than expectations.
Because of this, Hackett School gets an A grade on SchoolSparrow. GreatSchools only gives a 3/10 score to Hackett, which we feel is far too low. Hackett should be ranking closer to an 8 or even a 9 out of 10 based on its students performance.
The list price per square foot of a home in zip code 19125 is $265, and the median sale price is $306,700. This listing is an example of a home in the boundaries for Hackett.
Don’t let the GreatSchools score scare you away: Hackett School is a great option for any families looking for a Philly public school.
Address: 2161 East York St., Philadelphia, PA 19125
5. Samuel Powel School – Philadelphia, PA (13 minute drive to Center City)
If your family is looking for a school near the center business district, don’t miss Samuel Powel School in Powelton Village!
Samuel Powel School is located in a very affordable zip code, with an average list price per square foot of $150 and a median home sale price of $219,241. This listing is an example of a 3 bedroom home you can buy in the Powel school boundaries. The drive and price combine to make this a zip code with great value.
But that’s not the only thing that makes it stand out. Powel School students score 54% better than expected based on parent income. The expected score on reading/language arts testing for this school is 33.79, but the actual average score students achieve is 52!
Powel scores a 3/10 on GreatSchools, which might cause parents to not consider this school. But don’t write it off! This low rating does not accurately represent Powel School. On SchoolSparrow, Powel School has an A grade.
Address: 301 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
1. J. Hampton Moore School – Philadelphia, PA (29 minute drive to Center City)
Though “Top 5” is a nice round number, J. Hampton Moore School is just too good to leave off the list.
Not only is it tied for the most diverse school on the list, with a diversity score of 30 out of 40, but Moore students also exceed expectations year after year on standardized tests.
J. Hampton Moore is another school located in the 19111 zip code, with a list price per square foot of a home at $150. This is below the $180 average in Philadelphia. The median home sale price is also the lowest on the list, at $188,900. This listing is an example of you can buy within school boundaries. All this combines to make J. Hampton Moore one of the most schools on the list.
Don’t be fooled by the 3/10 GreatSchools gives it: Moore School is one of the best schools in Philadelphia, with an A- grade on SchoolSparrow. In fact, J. Hampton Moore students score 45% above expectations on standardized tests. The expectation for an average score is 32, but the actual average score from Moore students is 46.
Address: 6900 Summerdale Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111
2. Rhawnhurst School – Philadelphia, PA (29 minute drive from Center City)
Many parents may not give Rhawnhurst a chance due to its 4/10 GreatSchools score, but this hidden gem deserves a second look.
The SchoolSparrow grade for Rhawnhurst School is an A, with a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40.
As is the case with all of our hidden gems, Rhawnhurst students achieve better than expectations based on parent income: 51% better to be exact! With an expected score of 32, Rhawnhurst students average a 48!
The median list price per square foot of homes in the 19152 zip code is $190, and the median sale price is $240,300. This listing is an example of a home you can buy within Rhawnhurt School boundaries.
Address: 7809 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19152
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