Top 6 Underrated Nashville Public Schools

When you think of Nashville, what comes to mind? Country music and cowboy boots? Delectable southern BBQ and cornbread? How about fantastic public schools? 

Well, Nashville has all of that and more. In fact, the city is home to at least 13 colleges and universities, and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) serves over 85,000 elementary, middle, and high school students each year!

Photo Courtesy: Brandon Jean / Unsplash

When you’re looking for the best Nashville public schools for your family, it’s so easy to get lost in the sea of information online. School ranking sites from GreatSchools to SchoolSparrow (that’s us!) offer you a variety of statistics, grades, and achievement metrics to help you understand each school better. 

More information is a good thing, right? 

Yes and no. All parents should be able to make informed decisions about schools for their kids. The problem comes when school ranking sites don’t actually provide accurate rankings. 

Research has repeatedly shown that parent income is the single largest contributing factor to a child’s standardized test scores. So if you’re ranking schools by test scores alone, you’ll always over-rate affluent schools and under-rate lower income schools. 

Here at SchoolSparrow, we’re committed to redefining our society’s understanding of what makes a “good” school. We believe “good” shouldn’t just mean “rich.”

That’s why SchoolSparrow takes the parent income profile of each school into account. Our rankings are normalized for parent income so you can see the educational excellence of the school itself, rather than just how fat parents’ wallets are. 

The schools you’ll find on the list below are underrated on most school ranking websites. But they have high levels of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, and they’re exceeding expectations when it comes to test scores, too!

1. Rocketship United Academy (9 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

Meet Rocketship United, one of the best Nashville schools.
Photo courtesy: https://cohabdev.com/projects

This K-5 school strives to develop a scalable and sustainable public school model that propels student achievement in low-income communities, and a quick look at its test scores will show you that Rocketship United Academy is doing just that! 

The average score of schools in Nashville with a similar income profile is 21.32 (21.32% of students meet or exceed state standards). Rocketship United outperforms this average by a whopping 10.7 points! 

This outstanding performance sets Rocketship United apart as one of the best elementary schools in Nashville. 

Don’t be fooled by its 5/10 score on GreatSchools. With a 20.0 diversity score (out of 40 possible points) and an outstanding mission, Rocketship United deserves a place on your school shortlist. 

And if that’s not enough reasons to celebrate this school, take a look at their trend in scores. Rocketship United raised its average test score by over 50% in the span of a single year! 

Special shoutout to the 4th grade teachers, whose students are achieving A level, according to SchoolSparrow rankings! 

Rocketship United is located in zip code 37217, which has a median list price of $142 per square foot, almost $50 lower than the Nashville average. If you’re looking in this area, don’t miss this 3-bed, 3-bath home listed at $124,900. 

Address: 320 Plus Park Blvd Nashville, TN 37217

Website: https://www.rocketshipschools.org/schools/united-academy/ 

2. KIPP Academy Nashville (10 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

KIPP Academy Nashville is undoubtedly one of the best Nashville schools.
Photo Courtesy: Joshua Ness / Unsplash 

This free, open-enrollment public charter school serves students in grades 5 through 8 in the heart of East Nashville. And KIPP Academy Nashville is shattering expectations when it comes to test scores. 

KIPP students score an average of 16.0 points above expected, when normalized for parent income. Grades 6, 7, and 8 all score at A- level or above! 

With a diversity score of 20.0 (out of 40.0 possible points) and a welcoming educational environment, this school deserves to be ranked as one of the best schools in Nashville. Don’t overlook it just because of its 5/10 GreatSchools score. This school is anything but average. 

KIPP Academy is located in zip code 37207, which has a median list price of $198 per square foot, slightly higher than the Nashville average. Interested in a home in this area? Check out this 3-bed, 2-bath home listed at $196,000. 

Address: 123 Douglas Ave, Nashville, TN 37207

Website: https://kippnashville.org/ 

3. Nashville Prep (14 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

Nashville Prep is one of the best Nashville schools.
Photo courtesy: https://vimeo.com/75365902 

If you look up Nashville Prep on GreatSchools, you’ll see it get an average score, 5/10. But we’re here to tell you that this 5th through 8th grade school should score closer to a 9/10. 

Take a closer look at the test scores. According to the latest data, all students are scoring at B level or above, and the school has improved its test score average almost 10% over the span of a single year! 

Special shoutout to the 7th grade teachers, whose students are scoring 15 points above expected!  

Nashville Prep is located in zip code 37209, which has a median list price of $231 per square foot. If you’re searching for homes near here, take a look at this 2-bed, 1-bath condo listed at $142,500.

Address: 1300 56th Ave. N, Nashville, TN 37209

Website: https://republiccharterschools.org/np-1 

4. Paragon Mills Elementary (15 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

Check out Paragon Mills Elementary-- it's one of the best Nashville schools!
Photo Courtesy: Scott Webb / Unsplash

This elementary school serves students in grades pre-K through 4, roughly 15 minutes south of Downtown Nashville. And Paragon Mills is exceeding expectations when it comes to test scores!

Paragon Mills Elementary students score at B- level or above, according to SchoolSparrow rankings, and they’re trending upwards. In fact, this school improved its scores by almost 50% in the span of just one year.

With a diversity score of 30.0 (out of 40.0 possible points) and a welcoming educational environment, this school deserves to be ranked as one of the best schools in Nashville. Don’t overlook it just because of its 3/10 GreatSchools score. This school deserves at least a 7/10.

Paragon Mills Elementary is located in zip code 37211, which has a median list price of $168 per square foot, almost $25 lower than the Nashville average. Interested in a home in this area? Check out this 2-bed, 2-bath condo currently listed at $105,000.

Address: 260 Paragon Mills RD Nashville, TN 37211

Website: https://schools.mnps.org/paragon-mills-elementary-school

5. STEM Prep Academy – Middle School  (11 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

This 5th through 8th school serves the South Nashville community and accepts students through a random lottery process. Don’t be fooled by its average score on sites like GreatSchools: this school is redefining educational excellence!

To begin, STEM Prep Academy offers a rigorous curriculum, including inquiry-based learning and capstone projects at the end of each class. Its student population is one of the most diverse in all Nashville. And, if that’s not enough, take a look at its test scores. 

The average score of schools in Nashville with a similar income profile is 23.95 (23.95% of students meet or exceed state standards). Rocketship United outperforms this average by more than 5 points. Plus, all its students consistently score at B level or above, according to SchoolSparrow rankings. Go Chargers!

STEM Prep Academy is located in zip code 37210, which has a median list price of $216 per square foot. If you’re looking in this area, don’t miss this 2-bed, 2-bath townhouse listed at $214,900. 

Address: 1162 Foster Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210

Website: https://stemprepacademy.org/middle-school/ 

6. John Trotwood Moore Middle School (16 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame)

J. T. Moore should rank among the best Nashville schools.
Photo courtesy: https://schools.mnps.org/jt-moore-middle-prep 

John Trotwood Moore Middle School serves 5th – 8th graders in the Green Hills area, and it’s doing an amazing job! 

If you only checked out this school on GreatSchools, you might be tempted to dismiss it. But the 5/10 score GreatSchools gives doesn’t tell the whole story. To see how this school is really doing, take a look at the raw data. 

The average score of schools in Nashville with a similar income profile is 41.39 (that is, 41.39% of students meet or exceed state standards). But J. T. Moore Middle exceeds expectations by an average of 6.6 percentage points. 

Special shoutout to the 5th and 7th grade teachers, whose students achieve A- level according to SchoolSparrow rankings!

John Trotwood Moore Middle school is located in zip code 37204, which has a median list price of $289 per square foot. Interested in a home in this area? Check out this 2-bed, 1-bath condo listed at $284,900. 

Address: 4425 Granny White PK Nashville, TN 37204

Website: https://schools.mnps.org/jt-moore-middle-prep 

Bonus: Hattie Cotton Elementary (10 mn. drive from Country Music Hall of Fame) 

Hattie Cotton Elementary is one of the best Nashville schools.
Photo courtesy: Tim Gouw / Unsplash

Hattie Cotton Elementary serves pre-K through 4th grade students from all over Nashville. Don’t be fooled by its 3/10 score on sites like GreatSchools: this school deserves at least 7/10!

To begin, Hattie Cotton Elementary offers a rigorous curriculum, including inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction. It introduces students to the magical world of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at an early age. And it’s exceeding expectations on standardized tests as well.

Hattie Cotton Elementary is located in zip code 37206, which has a median list price of $238 per square foot. If you’re looking in this area, don’t miss this 2-bed, 2-bath townhouse listed at $224,900. 

Address: 11033 West Greenwood Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206

Website: https://schools.mnps.org/hattie-cotton-stem-magnet-elementary-school 

Want to learn more about Nashville schools? Curious about how your school compares? Visit us at schoolsparrow.com!

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