5 of the Best Schools in Indianapolis: SchoolSparrow’s Hidden Gems

Indianapolis is the crossroads to America. It’s known for many things. Perhaps the most notable thing that the city is known for is the Indy 500. What a lot of people don’t know about Indianapolis is that it serves 11 public school districts. Many of these schools, specifically the ones you will find on this list, are greatly exceeding expectations. To go along with that, they are also very diverse. SchoolSparrow believes that Indianapolis has some fantastic schools that deserve a spotlight.

Are Indianapolis Public Schools an Option?

Parents moving to the Indianapolis area with a family might question if the public schools in the City of Indianapolis are really an option for their children. If you rely solely on traditional school ranking sites, they’ll probably 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 schools in Indianapolis. But are those scores actually reliable?

At SchoolSparrow, we gathered the raw data for public schools across the city and found that many Indianapolis public schools are 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.

For reference throughout this blog, the average list price for homes in Indianapolis is $106 per square foot.

SchoolSparrow’s 5 Best Public Schools in Indianapolis

We have compiled a list of “hidden gems”– schools that score high on SchoolSparrow but have low scores on other biased school ranking websites. These schools are all located in the Indianapolis 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 Indianapolis.

1. Winchester Village Elementary – Indianapolis, IN (21 minute drive from Mile Square) 

One of the best schools in Indianapolis is Winchester Village Elementary, which is part of the Perry School District. However, this school is often overlooked due to its 4/10 score on GreatSchools.

On SchoolSparrow, Winchester Village has an A grade, which is equivalent to a 10/10 on GreatSchools. They also have A grades for grades 3, 4, and 5.

Winchester Village Elementary. Image: https://www.facebook.com/WinchesterVillage/photos/?ref=page_internal

Winchester Village Elementary has the maximum diversity score that can be achieved on SchoolSparrow, 40/40.

What really puts this school over the top is its test scores. SchoolSparrow finds the test score expectation for each school based on the family income profile of the school. The expected score for Winchester Village Elementary is 37.33. Students shatter that score, with an average score of 53. These scores come from the reading/language arts portion of the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) standardized test. This is 42% better than expectations, which is the highest percentage on this whole list!

This school is also located in a hot zip code, with the price per square foot of a home being $110. The school is located South of the central business district in Indianapolis in the Rosewood neighborhood.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

The data shows that Winchester Village is one of the best schools in all of Indianapolis. Any parent looking to move into an affordable school district in Indianapolis should take a close look at Winchester Village Elementary.

Address: 1900 E. Stop 12 Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46227

Website: http://www.perryschools.org/wv/

2. Chapelwood Elementary – Indianapolis, IN (19 minute drive to Mile Square)

The second hidden gem on the list is Chapelwood Elementary, which is part of the Wayne School District. Chapelwood is another diverse school in Indianapolis, with a SchoolSparrow diversity score of 30 out of a possible 40. 

Chapelwood Elementary. Image: https://cwe.wayne.k12.in.us/

The reason that this school is a hidden gem is because it has an average 5/10 on GreatSchools. With an A grade on SchoolSparrow, we believe that Chapelwood should have a 10/10 GreatSchools score. The 6th graders stand out, who also have an A grade.

This school is also in a very affordable neighborhood, with the price per square foot of a home of $94. The Indianapolis average is $106. Chapelwood Elementary is located west of the Indianapolis central business district.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Much like all of the schools on this list, students at Chapelwood Elementary are exceeding test score expectations. Based on parent income, the test score expectations for Chapelwood students is 45.41. Students actually achieve 23% better than that, with an average score of 56.

Chapelwood Elementary is a great school where educators are making a difference. The 5/10 GreatSchools score might have been a reason that many people overlooked this school, but this should no longer be the case, becauseChapelwood Elementary is one of the best schools in Indianapolis.

Address: 1129 N Girls School Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46214

Website: https://cwe.wayne.k12.in.us/

3. Pleasant Run Elementary – Indianapolis, IN (16 minute drive to Mile Square)

Pleasant Run Elementary, part of the Warren School District, is located east of the Indianapolis central business district, and scores an A- SchoolSparrow grade. 4th grade at the school has an A grade. 

Pleasant Run is a hidden gem, because it has a 2/10 score on GreatSchools, when in reality, it should have a 9/10.

Pleasant Run Elementary. Image: https://www.facebook.com/106550847356241/photos/a.106551187356207/106551167356209

This is another diverse school, with a SchoolSparrow diversity score of 30 out of 40.

Pleasant Run Elementary is in an affordable zip code. Home prices in this zip code average $97/sf, which is below the Indianapolis average.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Again, the test scores and data tell the story. The expected test score from Pleasant Run Elementary students, based on the schools parent income profile, is 43.99. The score that students achieved was 52, 20% better than expectations. These scores come from the reading/language arts portion of the annual NAEP standardized test.

Pleasant Run Elementary is one of the best schools in Indianapolis, and parents can confidently add this one to the short list of possible schools to consider.

Address: 1800 N Franklin Road, Indianapolis, IN 46219

Website: https://pleasantrun.warren.k12.in.us/

4. Liberty Park Elementary – Indianapolis, IN (22 minute drive to Mile Square) 

Another school with an A- grade on SchoolSparrow is Liberty Park Elementary. This school is located southeast of the Indianapolis central business district in the Warren School District. It has an A grade at the 4th grade level. 

Liberty Park Elementary. Image: https://libertypark.warren.k12.in.us/

Liberty Park Elementary has a 4/10 on GreatSchools, when in reality, it should have a 9/10. Not only is this a diverse school, with a diversity score of 30 out of 40, but students exceed test score expectations.

The expected test score from Liberty Park students is 48.83. Students actually score an average score of 57, the highest on the entire list. This is 17% better than parent income adjusted expectation.

The price per square foot of a home in this zip code is $109, which is very close to the Indianapolis average.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Liberty Park Elementary is one of the best schools in Indianapolis. Any parent looking for a school in Indianapolis to send their child to should have Liberty Park Elementary on their shortlist.

Address: 8425 E Raymond St, Indianapolis, IN 46239

Website: https://libertypark.warren.k12.in.us/

5. McClelland Elementary – Indianapolis, IN (16 minute drive to Mile Square)

First of all, McClelland Elementary is a very diverse school, scoring SchoolSparrow’s max diversity score of 40 out of 40 possible points! This is tied for the most diverse school on the list. 

McClelland Elementary. Image: https://mce.wayne.k12.in.us/

McClelland has an A- score on GreatSchools, and an A at the 6th grade level. However, on GreatSchools, McClelland has a 4/10. The score should be a 9/10, based on the SchoolSparrow data.

McClelland is also located in a very affordable zip code, with a median home value of $86,770. It is located west of the central business district near the Indianapolis International Airport in the Wayne School District.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

McClelland Elementary students score 16% better than expectations on the reading/language arts portion of standardized tests. The parent income adjusted expected score for McClelland students is 45.93. The actual score achieved by these students is an average of 53. 

McClelland is one of the best schools in Indianapolis, in one of the most affordable zip codes in the city.

Address: 6740 W. Morris St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46241

Website: https://mce.wayne.k12.in.us/

BONUS. Ernie Pyle School – Indianapolis, IN (13 minute drive to Mile Square)

An extra school that was too good to leave off the list is Ernie Pyle School. It has an A- grade on SchoolSparrow. Grade 3 has an A grade. It belongs to the Indianapolis Public School District.

Ernie Pyle Elementary. Image: https://myips.org/erniepyle/

Two things that make this school standout, aside from test scores, are the proximity to the central business district and the affordability of real estate in the zip code. Ernie Pyle School is the closest school to the Indianapolis central business district on the entire list.

The price per square foot of a home in this zip code northwest of the Indianapolis central business district is $70. That is the lowest on the entire list, and well below average for Indianapolis.

This listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Ernie Pyle School has a diversity score of 20 out of a possible 40. GreatSchools gives this school a 4/10, but SchoolSparrow data suggests that this score should be a 9/10.

Of course, Ernie Pyle School wouldn’t be on this list unless students exceeded test score expectations. Based on parent income, the expected average standardized test score is 46.25. The actual average score from Pyle students is 53, 15% better than expectations.

Ernie Pyle School was too good to leave off the list, as it is one of the best schools in Indianapolis, with a very unique approach to learning. They use the Paideia Program, which you can read more about here!

Address: 3351 W. 18th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222Website: https://myips.org/erniepyle/

3 Comments

  1. Lower income shouldn’t mean lower test scores expectation for a community. It means, closing the opportunity gap for the more diverse schools, with lower income. Expectations are the same, but approach should be different.

    1. Thank you for your great comment. We agree 100% that expectations shouldn’t be lowered, and the opportunity gap needs to be closed, but that doesn’t change the sad truth that parent incomes are the primary factor that drive test scores in the US today. If two schools have the exact same test scores, and one is in the wealthiest community, and the other is in the most disadvantaged community, then the school in the most disadvantaged community deserves a higher score. That school is doing more with less resources, less tax dollars, less money from the PTA, less time with private tutors, etc. School ranking sites do not take this into account today, and as a result, these ranking systems are biased towards wealthy neighborhoods. SchoolSparrow’s ranking system controls for relative wealth of a community, which dethrones some schools that score well on today’s systems, and elevates other schools that score poorly. Our hope is that parents will start to question the validity of one number to describe a school, and at the same time provide awareness about schools they would have otherwise overlooked.

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