Top 5 Incredible (But Overlooked) Tampa Bay Elementary Schools

If you’re looking for a home for your family in the Tampa Bay area, we have some good news for you. Tampa public schools are rocking it. In fact, there were so many amazing schools that we had trouble choosing just 5 for this list! (That’s one reason there are a few bonus schools listed…) 

But before we jump into the best (but underrated) Tampa elementary schools, here’s why our list is different– and, we think, more accurate –than all the others you’ll find out there.

The Problem With School Selection Today

Most families today choose schools based on word of mouth and school rankings websites like GreatSchools.org. Both methods, however, will give you only a narrow view of your school options

That’s because public school ranking websites like GreatSchools factor in test score results in their ranking formulas. In fact, test scores are the biggest influencer of the rankings on these sites, and word of mouth usually mirrors those rankings as well.

But research has proven that the most influential factor in predicting test scores is not the school itself or the quality of instruction. The most influential factor is parent income

The end result is this: people are selecting schools in the most expensive neighborhoods, often in suburbs with long commutes to work, sacrificing time with their family– and all this in the name of finding the “best” schools. In reality, all they’re doing is chasing schools with the highest parent income.

The SchoolSparrow Solution

SchoolSparrow understands that parent income is the biggest driver of test scores at any given public K-12 school in the US, and our ranking system reflects that. 

We calculate an “expected” test score for each school— that is, the score you’d expect solely based on average parent income at that school. Then, the school is graded based on how it departs from this expected score. 

If the students perform better than expected on standardized tests, that means the school is clearly putting in extra work to make sure these kids succeed. In short, our ranking system elevates schools with socio-economic diversity and true educational excellence to the forefront– not just schools with high average parent income!

Below you’ll find the top 5 underrated elementary schools in the Tampa Bay area: schools that most ranking websites (and most parents, too) overlook because of the biased metrics. Don’t make that mistake! The schools on this list don’t just exceed expectations on standardized tests: they’re diverse learning communities located in neighborhoods that won’t break your budget.

1. West Shore Elementary School (18 mn. drive from the Florida Aquarium)

If you only checked out West Shore Elementary on GreatSchools, you might be quick to dismiss this school. But don’t be fooled: the 4/10 rating you’ll see there is anything but accurate.

Let’s start off with the student body. West Shore has a diversity score of 40.0 points, which is as high as it gets. What does that mean, exactly? Well, SchoolSparrow rankings give schools 10 points for every 15% of the student population that represents a different race. For example, a school where at least 15% of the students are Black and at least 15% of the students are Asian and the rest are white receives a 30.0 diversity score, since three races or ethnicities are significantly represented in its student population. 

A diversity score of 40, like the one West Shore has, means at least four different races or ethnicities are well-represented in its student population. What does that mean for your family? Your child is sure to find an inclusive and welcoming educational environment at West Shore. 

But diversity isn’t the only thing that sets West Shore apart. Take a look at their test scores! Tampa schools with similar income levels usually score around 45%— meaning 45% of their students meet or exceed state standards on the Reading/Language Arts (RLA) section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) standardized test. 

West Shore Elementary shatters this expectation by an average of 11.7 points, meaning 57% of their students meet or exceed state standards. And with an upward trend in student test scores, you can expect these numbers to get even better in the years to come. This school is, without a doubt, one of the best Tampa elementary schools.

West Shore Elementary makes its home in zip code 33616, which has a median list price of $195 per square foot, which is slightly lower than the Tampa average of $199 per square foot. Looking for homes in this area? Check out this 3-bed, 2-bath home currently listed at $229,500.  

Address: 7110 S. West Shore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33616

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/westshore 

2. Xavier F. Cannella Elementary School (21 mn. north of the Florida Aquarium)

You’ll find Xavier F. Cannella Elementary roughly 20 minutes north of Downtown Tampa, and this K-5th gem is another school you won’t want to miss.

Don’t be fooled by the 6/10 score Cannella Elementary has on GreatSchools. This school is anything but average.

Take its test scores, for example. Tampa schools with similar parent income profiles typically score around 43%. In other words, 43% of their student body meets or exceeds state standards on RLA section of the NAEP. Cannella Elementary exceeds this average by almost 15 points! 

In fact, according to the most recent data, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are all performing at A- or A level! 

With a 20.0 diversity score and excellent student performance, Cannella Elementary is a wonderful choice for any family and deserves to be counted among the best elementary schools in Tampa. 

Interested in a house near Cannella? The median list price for zip code 33624 is $158, which is almost $41 lower than the Tampa average. Take a look at this 2-bed, 2-bath condo currently priced at $110,000. 

Address: 10707 Nixon Rd. Tampa, FL 33624

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/cannella

3. Chiaramonte Elementary School (13 mn. southwest of the Florida Aquarium) 

Like the first two schools on our list, Chiaramonte Elementary belongs to the Hillsborough County School District. And just like West Shore and Cannella, this K-5th school is exceeding expectations across the board. 

A diversity score of 40.0 tells you that Chiaramonte offers a diverse and inclusive educational environment. And the raw test score data shows that its excellence doesn’t stop there. 

Tampa schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 45%, meaning 45% of their students meet or exceed state standards on the RLA section of the NAEP. How does Chiaramonte compare? This school outperforms the average by 7 points. In fact, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders all perform at B level or above, according to SchoolSparrow rankings. 

Special shoutout to Chiaramonte’s 3rd grade teachers, whose students have scored at A- level or above two years in a row!

If you only checked out Chiaramonte on GreatSchools, you might be tempted to dismiss it based on its rating there. As you can tell, the 4/10 rating doesn’t do justice to the educational excellence of this school. 

Chiaramonte makes its home in zip code 33611, which has a median list price of $237 per square foot. Looking for homes in this area? Check out this 2-bed, 2-bath condo currently listed at $145,000.  

Chiaramonte Elementary is one of the best elementary schools in Tampa. Be sure to add it to your school search short-list!

Address: 6001 S. Himes Ave. Tampa, FL 33611

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/chiaramonte 

4. Carrollwood Elementary School (22 mn. north of the Florida Aquarium) 

With a diversity score of 20.0 and an upward trend in test scores, Carrollwood Elementary is definitely a contender for the best elementary schools in Tampa.

Photo Courtesy: https://twitter.com/carrollwoodelem

Don’t overlook Carrollwood because of its 6/10 GreatSchools score. This K-5th school has been consistently outperforming expectations! According to the latest data, the school overall performed 9.4 points above the average for Tampa schools with similar parent income profiles.

In fact, 69% of all Carrollwood students met or exceeded state standards for standardized tests!

And Carrollwood’s 4th grade teachers deserve special recognition: their students scored at A level according to SchoolSparrow metrics. Way to go!

Interested in a house near Carrollwood? The median list price for zip code 33618 is $164, which is $35 lower than the Tampa average list price. Take a look at this 2-bed, 3-bath condo currently priced at $151,000. 

Address: 3516 Mcfarland Rd. Tampa, FL 33618

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/carrollwood

5. Essrig Elementary School (25 mn. drive to Florida Aquarium)

If you only checked out Essrig Elementary on GreatSchools, you might be tempted to dismiss it based on its 6/10 rating there. But this average rating doesn’t tell the whole story…

Essrig ranks as one of the best Tampa elementary schools
Photo Courtesy: https://twitter.com/essrighcps

Tampa schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 53%, meaning 53% of their students meet or exceed state standards on the RLA section of the NAEP. How does Essrig Elementary compare? This school outperforms the average by 7.1 points. 

Special shoutout to Essrig’s 4th grade teachers, whose students have scored at A- level or above two years in a row!

Together with its great diversity score (20.0 out of 40 possible points), Essrig Elementary stands as one of the best elementary schools in Tampa. Be sure to add it to your school search short-list!

Essrig makes its home in zip code 33624, which has a median list price of $158 per square foot. Looking for homes in this area? Check out this 2-bed, 2-bath condo currently listed at $125,000.  

Address: 13131 Lynn Rd, Tampa, FL 33624 

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/essrig

Bonus: Harold H. Clark Elementary School (28 mn. north of the Florida Aquarium)

Harold H. Clark Elementary earns a respectable 7/10 score on GreatSchools. But we just had to include this school on our list of best Tampa Bay elementary schools because of a few other factors which that 7/10 score doesn’t take into account…

Photo Courtesy: CDC / Unsplash

Let’s start off with the student body. Clark Elementary has a diversity score of 40.0 points, which is as high as it gets. This means at least four different races or ethnicities are well-represented in its student population. What does that mean for your family? Your child is sure to find an inclusive and welcoming learning environment at Clark.

But diversity isn’t the only thing that sets Clark Elementary apart. Take a look at their test scores! Tampa schools with similar income levels usually score around 61%— meaning 61% of their students meet or exceed state standards. 

Clark Elementary exceeds that average by a whopping 8.4 points. In fact, 70% of their students meet or exceed state standards on the RLA section of the NAEP, and their scores are on an upward trend!

Special recognition goes to Clark Elementary’s 3rd grade teachers, whose students scored at A level, according to the latest available data. Way to go!

Interested in a house near Clark Elementary? The median list price for zip code 33647 is $129, making it the most affordable neighborhood on our list. Take a look at this 3-bed, 2-bath condo currently priced at $119,000. 

Address: 19002 Wood Sage Dr. Tampa, FL 33647

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/clark

Bonus: Dickenson Elementary School (19 mn. west of the Florida Aquarium)

A 7/10 rating on GreatSchools is nothing to scoff at, but if you look closer at Dickenson Elementary’s test scores, you’ll see this school deserves closer to a 9/10 rating. 

Dickenson deserves a place as one of the best public elementary schools in Tampa.
Photo Courtesy: NeONBRAND / Unsplash

At Dickenson, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders all performed at A- level or above, according to SchoolSparrow rankings. (Shoutout to Dickenson’s amazing 3rd grade teachers, whose students scored at A+ level two years in a row!)

Besides performing 12.7 points above the average when normalized for parent income, Dickenson Elementary also has a diversity score of 20.0 (out of 40 possible points). Overall, this school ranks as one of the best Tampa elementary schools.

Dickenson Elementary makes its home in zip code 33615, which has a median list price of $157 per square foot. In fact, this neighborhood is the second most affordable on our list. Looking for homes in this area? Check out this 2-bed, 2-bath townhouse currently listed at $98,000.  

Address: 4720 Kelly Rd. Tampa, FL 33615

Website: https://www.mysdhc.org/dickenson 

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

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