The Problem with School Ranking Sites
As a parent, it is challenging to find the best elementary schools in Los Angeles that are also in an affordable neighborhood. If you are like most people, you will rely on both word of mouth and research on school ranking websites, the biggest of which is GreatSchools, to help guide your search. But the established school ranking sites overlook many quality schools because they do not control for the effect of parent income on test scores.
Research has proven that parent income has the the greatest influence on test scores, not the quality of of education at the school. As a result, the established school ranking websites favor privileged schools, and discount socio-economically diverse schools.
The unfortunate consequence is that the established school ranking websites can steer parents to more expensive neighborhoods, often in the suburbs with long commutes (and less time with family), and very little diversity, all in the name of chasing the “best” schools.
You can read more about how the ubiquitous ranking systems out there are misleading families at this link.
SchoolSparrow’s Equitable School Ranking System
SchoolSparrow’s ranking algorithm calculates the extent to which every school exceeds or falls short of expected scores at each school’s parent income level. Our system controls for parent income, and as a result, schools with socio-economic diversity can be recognized as high-quality schools because if they are exceeding expectations.
SchoolSparrow is passionate about helping you along your journey in finding the perfect school and home for your child in LA by highlighting schools that you would have probably overlooked. Our school ranking system provides high-quality neighborhood schools the recognition they deserve.
Below you’ll find five high-quality (but often overlooked) Los Angeles schools that we call LA’s Hidden Gem Schools.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
At SchoolSparrow, we value equity. Our ranking system is equitable because it controls for the effect of parent income on test scores. LAUSD mirrors our values and is a school district that is committed to high quality education for all students.
The high school graduation rate in LAUSD has steadily increased from 75% in 2015 to 81% in 2019. LAUSD has made great strides to ensure that all students are set up for a bright future, and there are many top-tier neighborhood schools to consider.
These Hidden Gem neighborhood schools combine great test scores with diverse educational environments and inclusive communities. Any one of these schools could be the perfect fit for your family!
1. Latona Avenue Elementary (7 minutes from Dodger Stadium)
Latona Avenue Elementary is located in the Montecito Heights neighborhood, nestled into the Monterey Hills. This neighborhood has experienced a resurgence, with many newly renovated homes. Montecito Heights is a diverse neighborhood with a perfect balance between urban and suburban. This neighborhood is 10 minutes from downtown and a few minutes from Debs Park hiking trails.
Latona Avenue stands out from the rest with an A school total score according to SchoolSparrow. The expected score for this school normalized for parent income is 36.8, but Latona Avenue students are exceeding testing expectations by scoring at an average of 57!
Don’t overlook Latona Avenue Elementary because of its low score on GreatSchools (6 out of 10). This school is making a difference for their students, and it is one of the best elementary schools in Los Angeles.
Special shout out to the 6th grade teachers at Latona Avenue Elementary. Their students are outperforming students across the country!
The median list price per square foot in this neighborhood is $542, which is lower than the Los Angeles average of $551. The median price of homes currently listed in 90031 is $657,800, but currently the market is very tight, with only a few homes for sale in the attendance boundaries of Latona Avenue Elementary. This home recently sold in the school boundaries for $650,000, 3BD/2BA at 1,825 SF, or $356.16 per square foot.
Address: 4312 Berenice Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90031
2. Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary (20 minutes from LAX Airport)
Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary is in the Watts neighborhood of LA. Watts is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood, with a tight-knit community and a lively arts center.
Don’t be fooled by the 5/10 score GreatSchools awards this school. Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary scores at A- level according to SchoolSparrow since its students perform much higher than expected on standardized tests.
Students at this school are expected to score at 33.15 on standardized tests. However, Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary is changing this narrative with students testing at 43. This K-5 school also has improved its scores by 6.5% over just one year!
With a diversity score of 20 out of 40 possible points, Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary promises a diverse and welcoming community for all families.
Special shout out to 3rd grade for especially high student achievement!
Homes in the 90002 zip code have an average median list price of $387,100 or $363/sf, making it the most affordable neighborhood on our list. For example, This listing is a 4bd/2ba single family home located in the attendance boundaries of and walking distance to Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary School, priced at $425,000. There also are opportunities to purchase short-sales and foreclosures at discounted prices in the attendance boundaries of this school as well.
Address: 9900 Wadsworth Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90002
3. Charles H. Kim Elementary (20 minutes to Griffith Park Observatory)
Charles H. Kim Elementary is located in Koreatown, a vibrant neighborhood with many bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals reside in Koreatown.
Charles H. Kim Elementary School is definitely a hidden gem school. At SchoolSparrow, we rank Charles H. Kim as an A because its students are performing above expected based on parent income. Expected test scores are 40 based on parent income, but students at Kim Elementary are scoring an average of 56! This is of the best elementary schools in Los Angeles.
In fact, third, fourth and fifth graders all rank as an A- and above! Not only is Charles H. Kim promoting student achievement, but this school also has a diverse student body with a diversity score of 20 out of 40 possible points.
The school has seen growth over the years in student achievement and is trending upward at a rate of 23%.
The median list price per square foot in Kim Elementary’s zipcode is $703. The median price of homes currently listed in 90004 is $1,174,500. This listing is a 3BD/2BA Condo currently priced at $799,000 in the attendance boundaries of Kim Elementary.
Address: 225 S Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
4. Dorris Place Elementary (10 minutes to Grand Central Market in Downtown LA)
Dorris Place Elementary is nestled in the Elysian Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles. This neighborhood, nestled between Glendale, Pasadena, and Downtown LA, boasts proximity to the Dodger Stadium and the beautiful Elysian Park. Plus, there are future plans in place for elaborate pedestrian bridges to cross the LA river from Elysian Valley.
Elysian Valley’s hidden gem is Dorris Place Elementary, ranked as an A by SchoolSparrow, and one of the best elementary schools in Los Angeles. The expected score for Dorris Place Elementary students is 37.46, but the school outperformed this by almost 20 points– averaging a score of 57!
Dorris Place Elementary also has a diverse student body with a diversity score of 15 out of 40 possible points. The school has seen impressive academic growth over the past few years. In fact, Dorris Place Elementary increased its scores by 31.6% over only one year. Dorris Place Elementary is underrated by GreatSchools because it is only a 7 out of 10. It definitely deserves to be a 9 or 10!
Way to go to the third grade and fifth grade teachers with especially high student achievement scores!
The median list price per square foot in this neighborhood is $542, which is lower than the Los Angeles average of $551. The median price of homes currently listed in 90031 is $657,800. This 4BD/2BA home seems like a good deal within the attendance boundaries of Dorris Place Elementary; currently listed at $739,900.
Address: 2225 Dorris Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90031
5. Marvin Avenue Elementary School (10 minutes to LA County Museum of Art)
Marvin Avenue Elementary School is in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles. Home to the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, this neighborhood also has convenient access to Expo Line train stops going to Santa Monica and Downtown LA.
Marvin Avenue Elementary is another hidden gem school in Los Angeles. SchoolSparrow ranks Marvin Elementary as an A- because they shatter test score expectations, performing roughly 14 points above expected! This shows that Marvin Avenue Elementary School is driving student achievement above expected.
Special shout out the the fifth grade teachers at Marvin Avenue Elementary, whose students are score well above expected with scores at 57. Don’t overlook Marvin Avenue Elementary just because GreatSchools rates it 6 out of 10. With upward trending test scores, this school is going places!
Homes currently listed in 90016 have median list prices of $848,000 or $582/sf. But consider this house which is listed for $585,000 in the attendance boundaries of Marvin Elementary.
Address: 2411 S Marvin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90016