The housing market in Seattle is continually on the rise. As prices increase, so does the difficulty of finding an affordable home in a good school district. The average home value in Seattle is $767,906 according to Zillow.
Traditional school ranking sites like Niche or GreatSchools don’t factor in parent income — but parent income has the largest impact on student test performance. So, a score of 9 or 10 on these school ranking sites doesn’t tell you a lot about the school itself. Instead, it tells you that the school is most likely located in a privileged area. The areas promoted by ranking sites like GreatSchools often have the most expensive real estate in the metropolitan area, longer commutes, and very little diversity.
When you’re looking for schools in Seattle, it can be hard to know where to begin. After all, there are so many school rankings out there! Not all rankings are created equal, however…
Here at SchoolSparrow, we’ve ranked the top Seattle schools by normalizing test scores for parent income. This means schools are ranked based on how they perform compared to their expected scores (which are a factor of family income) rather than raw standardized test scores.
Our mission at SchoolSparrow is to empower families with an equitable school ranking system that meets your family’s priorities, instead of pushing you towards privileged schools in unaffordable areas.
The schools you’ll find on this list don’t just perform well on standardized tests: they’re diverse learning communities located in neighborhoods that won’t break your budget.
Seattle School Districts
The Seattle Public School System assigns students to schools based on their permanent address. Its website allows families to use a lookup tool to see what school their children are set to attend.The lookup tool has a helpful option that allows parents to use the “Find on Map” button to explore all schools regardless of permanent address.
Otherwise, students may apply to other schools through a program called School Choice. This program allows students to apply to eligible schools through a program similar to open enrollment. Not all students are accepted into these programs, leading to a long waitlist with stringent requirements. If a student is let into a choice school, parents only have 48 hours to confirm enrollment before the spot is given to another student.
In 2019, over one thousand students in the Seattle Public School System were waitlisted for School Choice, according to the Seattle Public School System Public Choice Data Sets. Even being a sibling of an existing student isn’t enough to get you off the waitlist, which often results in siblings attending different schools. Typically, students who live near the school receive priority during open enrollment.
The six “hidden gems” schools listed below are traditionally overlooked by other school rankings sites, which don’t factor in family income. When you take average parent income into account, however, these schools are outperforming their peers and doing one thing really well: educating Seattle’s kids.
6 of the Best Seattle Schools
- Hawthorne Elementary School – Seattle, WA (18 minute drive to Downtown Seattle)
Hawthorne Elementary is located in the Mt. Baker neighborhood of Seattle, WA. The neighborhood has a population of 7,400 and was named after Mount Baker, which is visible across Lake Washington to the north. In 2017, Seattle Magazine voted Mount Baker one of the best neighborhoods in Seattle!
Hawthorne Elementary PTA
Parents should consider Hawthorne, which is one of the most diverse schools in the Seattle region, scoring a diversity score of 40/40!
Expected scores at Hawthorne Elementary are around 54, but students actually score 67. Greatschools ranks this school a 5/10, but according to SchoolSparrow rankings, Hawthorne Elementary deserves closer to a 9/10 score.
On SchoolSparrow, Hawthorne Elementary scores at A- level overall. Shoutout to 3rd and 5th graders who are A+ with scores in the high 70’s.
The median list price per square foot in zip code 98118 is $383 per square foot, which is significantly lower than the Seattle average of $517 per square foot. Median home values are $622,000.
Address: 4100 39th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
- Lakeridge Elementary School – Seattle, WA (20 minute drive to downtown Seattle)
Lakeridge is nestled in the Bryn Mawr-Skyway neighborhood of the Seattle metropolitan area, and although its address is in Seattle, this school is part of the Renton School District. This neighborhood has a population of 15,600 and borders Lake Washington. Lakeridge Elementary is sandwiched between Skyway and Lakeridge park, so there is plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities.
Lakeridge Elementary School
Although GreatSchools would have you believe Lakeridge is only a 4/10, our ranking system has uncovered this hidden gem where students are exceeding expectations. Leading SchoolSparrow to rank Lakeridge Elementary School with a solid A grade!
Students at this school are expected to score a 40 on the reading/language arts section of their standardized test, but have hit it out of the park by scoring 33% higher, with an average score of 53. Lakeridge also has a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40.
The median price of homes currently listed in Bryn Mawr-Skyway is $474,950. While the neighborhood directly to the west, Tukwila, has a median home price of $425,000.
Address: 7400 S 115th St, Seattle, WA 98178
- Beacon Hill International Elementary School – Seattle WA (12 minute drive to downtown Seattle)
Beacon Hill Elementary is located in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood of downtown Seattle, WA. This neighborhood has a population of 11,200 and is adjacent to T-Mobile Park and Century Link Field. North Beacon Hill was voted the number one up and coming neighborhood in Seattle.
Beacon Hill Elementary
When adjusted for parent income, the expected score on the rla section of the standardized test for Beacon Hill Elementary is 54. Yet students are overperforming by 15% to score 62 overall.
Beacon Hill International also has a high diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40.
All of SchoolSparrow’s combined data leads to a score of a B+ or an (8/10). Much higher than GreatSchools score of 6/10. Showing you shouldn’t judge a school without all the proper information.
The median home value in Beacon Hill is $641,000. The median price of homes listed currently in the Beacon Hill neighborhood is $525,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $608,500.
Address: 2025 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144
- Rainier View Elementary School – Seattle WA (20 minute drive to downtown Seattle)
Located in the Rainier View neighborhood of metropolitan Seattle is Rainier View Elementary. Rainier View has a population of 3,900 making it the smallest neighborhood/city on the list. There are still plenty of things to do nearby in the city which is a short drive away!
Walking Seattle Neighborhoods
SchoolSparrow, after adjusting for parent income, awards Rainier View Elementary a B+ (8/10). Our score reflects the performance of Rainier View better than Greatschools, who only scores them a 4/10.
Rainier View’s expected scores on the rla section of standardized tests were 45, when in actuality, they scored 52, 16% better than expected! Rainier View Elementary also has one of the highest diversity scores on this list with a 30 out of a possible 40!
With one of the lowest median prices of homes sold at only $436,000, Rainier View is also one of the most affordable neighborhoods on this list.
Address: 11650 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98178
- Olympic Hills Elementary School – Seattle WA (18 minute drive to downtown Seattle)
Another school in Seattle proper is Olympic Hills Elementary, located in the Olympic Hills neighborhood, north of Downtown. This neighborhood has a population of 8,000. Here you can find Thornton Creek and Albert Davis Park.
Yet another School on the list ranking high for diversity is Olympic Hills, with a diversity score of 30 out of a possible 40.
After normalizing parent income, Olympic Hills Elementary’s expected scores on the rla section of standardized tests were 45, but they scored 16% better than expected with a score of 52.
SchoolSparrow scores Olympic Hills a B+ (8/10) for their outstanding test scores, diversity, and teachers. GreatSchools on the other hand only scores them 6/10 and doesn’t offer up much data as to why.
Olympic Hills has a median price of sold homes of $619,000.
Address: 13018 20th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125
- Roxhill Elementary School – Seattle, WA (20 minute drive to downtown Seattle)
Roxhill Elementary is in the Roxhill neighborhood of Seattle. This neighborhood has a population of 4,250 allowing for a tight knit community. Roxhill offers both the downtown and small-town experience.
Roxhill Elementary School
Based on parent income, the expected test score on the reading/language arts portion of standardized testing is 39. Students at Roxhill Elementary actually score 21% higher than that, with an average score of 47.
To go along with that, Roxhill is one of the more diverse schools in Seattle, with a SchoolSparrow diversity score of 30 out of a possible 40.
With a score of 3/10 on GreatSchools, many families overlook this school as a viable option. When you look at the data further, Roxhill is one of the best schools in Seattle, achieving an B+ Grade on SchoolSparrow, which is equivalent to an 8/10.
The median home value in the Roxhill neighborhood is $589,800. The bordering neighborhood, South Delridge, still allows enrollment to Roxhill Elementary and has a lower median home value of $502,700.
All of these factors make Roxhill Elementary School a school that parents can confidently consider for their children.
Address: 7740 34th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126