The population of Washington D.C. is about 750,000, but this number swells by nearly 50% during the work week, as commuters travel to the city from suburbs in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Together with these suburbs, the DC Metro Area has a population of 6.2 million, making it the 5th largest metro area in the United States.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 76.1% of all commuters drive to work, and commuters spend an average of 155 hours per year sitting in traffic. That’s almost an entire week spent behind the wheel!
But the good news for people moving to the DC Metro Area is this: there are plenty of great schools located in or close to DC with reasonable commute times and affordable homes. (For reference, the average median price of a home in Washington D.C. proper is $552 per square foot.)
A New Way to Find the Best Schools
SchoolSparrow has created a more equitable public K-12 ranking system that factors in the single most influential factor on test scores: parent income. Our competitors who don’t factor in parent income have a system that favors privileged communities and unfairly discounts schools with lower test scores. Sometimes those low test scores are simply a reflection of the socioeconomic diversity at the school, not that the school itself is failing.
SchoolSparrow’s ranking system normalizes for parent income, elevating diverse schools instead of favoring privileged ones. Our income-adjusted scores help eliminate the inherent bias that comes with most school ranking websites.
Top Schools in the Washington DC and Suburbs
The schools in this list are some of the best public schools that are typically overlooked in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. We like to call these schools “hidden gems,” because traditional ranking systems give them low marks. When adjusted for average income, however, you’ll see that these schools are actually outperforming their peers.
Families looking for homes in the D.C. area should consider taking a look at these schools for their children. We believe they are some of the best schools in Washington D.C.
1. Dumfries Elementary – Dumfries, VA (51 minute drive to Ford’s Theatre)
The top hidden gem in the Washington D.C. Area is Dumfries Elementary. Dumfries is the most diverse school on this list with a SchoolSparrow diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40 points.
Another school ratings website, GreatSchools, only gives Dumfries a 3/10 grade. There’s more to this school than meets the eye, however. Dumfries is one of the top rated schools on SchoolSparrow, with an A+ grade, because its students perform far above expected when adjusted for parent income. This makes Dumfries Elementary a true hidden gem that most people would overlook because of its low GreatSchools score.
When adjusted for parent income, the expected reading/language arts standardized test score for Dumfries students is 48 (that is, 48% of students meet or exceed state standards on the test). What makes Dumfries so great is that their scores exceed those expectations by 51%, with an average score of 73, the highest test score on the entire list.
Dumfries also finds itself in the most affordable zip code on the list, with per square foot home prices at $194/sf. The median sale price of a home in Dumfries is $283,500.
Given the extent to which Dumfries Elementary exceeds expectations and the affordability of real estate in the area, this school is a true hidden gem. Parents in the DC Area: make sure to take a second look at this school for your children!
Address: 3990 Cameron St, Dumfries, VA 22026
2. Potomac View Elementary – Woodbridge, VA (46 minutes drive to Ford’s Theatre)
Another A+ grade in the DC suburbs is Potomac View Elementary. It’s a fantastic school, but when you look at GreatSchools, it seems to tell a different story. GreatSchools gives Potomac View a score of 4/10.
Based on SchoolSparrow metrics, however, Potomac View Elementary deserves a 9/10 or even 10/10, because of how the students perform on tests against parent adjusted income expectations.
The expected test score is an average of 42. However, Potomac View Elementary exceeds these expectations by 56%, with an average score of 65!
What’s more, the list price of a home per square foot is $208, which is very affordable, especially for the Washington D.C. Area. The median sale price of a home in this zip code is $335,000.
Don’t count this school out based on low marks from other biased ranking systems. The data clearly shows that Potomac View Elementary is doing something right.
Address: 14601 Lamar Rd Woodbridge, VA 22191
3. West Gate Elementary – Manassas, VA (52 minute drive to Ford’s Theatre)
This school exceeds test score expectations more than any other school on the list. West Gate Elementary students have an expected standardized test score of 40, and exceed that expectation by an impressive 58%! This means that the actual average RLA standardized test score is 63, earning West Gate Elementary our highest grade: an A+.
But since West Gate has a 4/10 score on GreatSchools, parents are undoubtedly overlooking this hidden gem. Don’t make that mistake! The data shows that West Gate is doing a great job educating kids, and parents should absolutely consider exploring this school as an option for their family,
This is another school in an affordable zip code, with a list price per square foot of $205, and a median home sale price of $319,300.
Address: 8031 Urbanna Rd, Manassas, VA 20109
4. Carlin Springs Elementary – Arlington, VA (16 minute drive to Ford’s Theatre)
Carlin Springs Elementary is a school right outside of the Washington D.C. city limits, with a diversity score of 10 out of 40.
The suburb of Arlington has a list price of a home per square foot of $372, with a median sale price of $444,300.
SchoolSparrow assigns an A grade to Carlin Springs, and this school is perhaps the most underrated school on this list due its 2/10 score on GreatSchools. This score should really be closer to an 8 or 9!
The proof that Carlin Springs is a great option to send your child to is in the parent income adjusted test score data. Carlin Springs students average a 64 score on the RLA portion of standardized tests. This is 44% better than the school’s expected score (a 44) based on parent income.
Carlin Springs Elementary definitely deserves a spot on your school search list if you’re looking for homes in the DC area!
Address: 5995 South 5th Road Arlington, VA 22204
5. Graham Road Elementary – Falls Church, VA (12 minute drive to Ford’s Theatre)
Our final hidden gem is closer to the central business district than any other suburban hidden gem. Graham Road Elementary is a great school right outside the city limits!
But you’d never know this by looking at GreatSchools, as its grade there is 3/10. In reality, Graham Road Elementary is a top Washington D.C. school, scoring an A grade according to SchoolSparrow metrics.
A diversity score of 10 isn’t all this school has to brag about. Graham Road Students also achieve 37% above expectations on standardized tests. The expected test score is 43, but the actual average test score coming from Graham Road students is 59. Shoutout to all of the Graham Road students and teachers!
The average list price of a home per square foot in the 22042 area code is $376, with a median sale price of $592,700.
If you want a short commute, and a great school for your child right outside of DC, look no further than Graham Road Elementary.
Address: 2831 Graham Rd Falls Church, VA 22042
6. Dorothy I Height – Washington, D.C. (18 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
Another hidden gem in our nation’s capital is Dorothy Height Elementary School, located on the north side of the city.
SchoolSparrow rates this school as a A overall, but GreatSchools gives Height a 6/10. A closer look at the data reveals this school should be ranking closer to a 9.
Don’t overlook Height Elementary. Height students are achieving above expected test scores (when controlled for parent income) for both 4th and 5th grade. Height students also score 33% better than expectations on PARCC testing. Shoutout especially to the fifth teachers, whose students are scoring at A level!
Height Elementary is also a diverse school, with a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40 points.
The median average home price per square foot in this zip code is $484, with a median sale price of $628,500, which is lower than average for Washington D.C.
All of this makes Height Elementary one of the best schools in Washington D.C. and an absolute hidden gem!
Address: 1300 Allison Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011
7. Thomson ES– Washington, D.C. (5 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
Thomson Elementary is top elementary school in DC, serving students in Washington D.C.
This is a school that ranks at an A on SchoolSparrow overall, yet it is only rated a 6/10 on GreatSchools.
Many parents would overlook Thomson Elementary because of this score, but SchoolSparrow believes this school deserves a closer look.
Thomson students also score 54% better than parent income adjusted expectations on PARCC testing.
Home prices in this zip code are also the lowest on the list, with median price per foot or a home listing is $679 and a median sale price of $582,300.
This school is also the closest school to the Washington D.C. central business district on the entire list, making it an extremely convenient option.
Address: 1200 L St. NW Washington, DC 20005
8. Bruce Monroe ES at Park View – Washington, D.C. (15 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Park View is the third gem on this list within DC city limits, in the Parkview neighborhood of Washington D.C. Monroe Elementary is a school that ranks as an A- at the third grade level and a A overall.
This school ranks at a 6/10 on GreatSchools, but our SchoolSparrow rankings tell a different story, scoring an equivalent of an 8 or 9!
Shoutout to this school’s elementary 3rd graders who have the highest scores of all grades at Monroe! In fact, overall, this school’s students score 39% better than expectations on PARCC testing.
The median price per square foot of a home listing in this zip code is $563, with a median sale value of a home being $627,600.
Bruce-Monroe Elementary at Park View is a beautiful school, and one of the best in D.C., that should not be overlooked in Washington DC.
Address: 3560 Warder St. NW, Washington, DC 20010
9. Bancroft ES – Washington, D.C. (18 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
Bancroft Elementary School is a school in Mount Pleasant that SchoolSparrow ranks at an A level. That said, this is a score that should not be overlooked as it falls in the top 15 elementary schools in D.C.
Bancroft may be a school that would be overlooked by many due to its pedestrian 5/10 score on GreatSchools.
The median price per square foot of a home listing in this zip code is $563, with a median sale value of a home being $627,600.
Bancroft students score 36% better than expectations on PARCC testing.
If you and your family are looking for a hidden gem in DC, consider taking a look at the newly renovated Bancroft Elementary.
Address: 1755 Newton St. NW, Washington, DC 20010
10. J O Wilson – Washington, D.C. (18 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
J.O. Wilson Elementary School, a school on the west side of Washington D.C., ranks at a B- or better for grades 4 and 5. It has an A grade overall. But, unfortunately, this is a school that ranks as a 5/10 on GreatSchools.
Despite this average rating on GreatSchools, Wilson Elementary is a great school.
Wilson students are achieving, on average, test scores above expectations for 4th and 5th grade students.
The median list price per square foot of a home is just about average for the city, at $563 per square foot, with a median sale price of $665,900.
Wilson students score 44% better than expectations on PARCC testing.
This school is routinely looked past in the DC area, but upon further examination, SchoolSparrow believes that Wilson Elementary has great potential, establishing itself as a hidden gem and one of the best schools in D.C.
Address: 660 K St NE, Washington, DC 20002
BONUS. Cleveland ES – Washington, D.C. (7 minute drive from Ford’s Theatre)
This is a school with great diversity that offers a bilingual program. It scores a 20 out of 40 in diversity score.
3rd grade students in 2016-2017 at Cleveland Elementary achieve test scores above expectations, adjusted for parent income.
Cleveland students score 26% better than expectations on PARCC testing. These expectations are normalized for parent income
The median list price per square foot of a home is $659 per square foot, with a median sale price of a home being $667,800.
Address: 1825 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
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