10 of the Best Elementary Schools in the Minneapolis Suburbs

So you’re moving to Minnesota…

If you’re moving to the Twin Cities with school-aged children, and the suburban life is for you, one of your first priorities is probably finding the best Twin Cities suburban schools. In this article we are publishing our list of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis area.

The Twin Cities are Minneapolis and St. Paul, and they sit on either side of the Mississippi River. They are so close together they touch for a 2 mile stretch. The Twin Cities and surrounding area have a population of 3.4 million people, accounting for over half of Minnesota’s total population.

When you’re looking for schools in the Twin Cities Area, it can be hard to know where to begin. After all, there are so many school rankings out there! 

Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

Don’t Fall in the Trap

The school rankings that you see on all the major real estate search portals are biased towards schools in privileged areas with little diversity, and they unfairly discount schools that have a vibrant student body with a broad range of socioeconomic diversity.

The reason is the school rankings you see out there are largely derived from the average scores on standardized tests.

But the biggest influencer of standardized test results is not the quality of the school! It’s parent income. The relative wealth of the parents accounts for 80% of any one student’s performance on a standardized test. As a result, the “best” schools are located in the wealthiest, and often whitest, neighborhoods, and as the average income of neighborhoods fall, so do the ratings of their schools.

If you take these ratings at face value, then you will find yourself in the most expensive neighborhoods, often in the suburbs with long commutes, less time with family, and very little diversity.

But if you are reading this post, then you are in luck. There is a more equitable way to score schools that shifts focus away from parent income.

The SchoolSparrow Method

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.

We’ve ranked the top Twin Cities Suburban 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 the state average calculated from raw standardized test score data.

Our system uncovers schools that you would have overlooked because the ratings are low, but sometimes these low ratings are simply a reflection of the vibrant diversity present at the school, not that it is a “bad” school.

Using data science, we’ve identified really good schools where teachers are making the difference, and not simply benefiting from high performing students from high income families. To us, this is the definition of a good school.

Read more about our ranking method.

How do I choose a Twin Cities public school? 

An easy tool to learn more about each school in the Twin Cities area is the Minnesota Report Card. The Minnesota Report Card gives you easy access to understandable data regarding districts and schools.

To find more information regarding schools in the Twin Cities area or anywhere else in Minnesota, go to the Minnesota Department of Education’s website. This website will help direct you to relevant sources that are available to answer any questions you may have about your child’s education.

Here are 10 Twin Cities Suburb’s hidden gems: the top elementary schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that are underrated with diversity scores and affordable neighborhoods to match!

Just For Reference

The scores you’ll see referenced below are the percentage of students in a school who meet or exceed state standards on the Reading/Language Arts (RLA) section of the Minnesota state assessment.

1. Red Oak Elementary School – Shakopee, MN

Red Oak Elementary is located southwest of downtown Minneapolis and situated on the south bank bend of the Minnesota River. The population of Shakopee was about 42,000 as of 2018.

Photo Courtesy: Brennan Construction

Red Oak Elementary has a great diversity score: 30 out of a possible 40. This suggests a warm and welcoming environment for your student. And Red Oak’s test scores are excellent as well!

Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 54 points, meaning 54% of their students meet or exceed state standards. At Red Oak, however, students exceed this average by 34%. The school overall achieves 72 points!

SchoolSparrow rates Red Oak Elementary an A (10/10) for going above and beyond. GreatSchools on the other hand only score Red Oak a 6/10, far below how they are actually performing. This school deserves to be ranked as one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs. 

Red Oak elementary is also trending 20% upwards compared to the previous year. Special shoutout to Red Oak 3rd graders who individually are earning an A+!

Looking for homes near Red Oak? The median list price per square foot in Shakopee is $149, which is lower than the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average of $202. Take a look at this 4-bed, 3-bath home near Red Oak!

Address: 7700 Old Carriage Ct, Shakopee, MN 55379

Website: https://www.shakopee.k12.mn.us/Domain/15 

2. Monroe Elementary School – Brooklyn Park, MN

Next, there’s Monroe Elementary located in the city of Brooklyn Park. It’s the sixth largest city in the state of Minnesota with a population of 81,000 as of 2018. This suburb is on the west bank of the Mississippi River and northwest of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Photo Courtesy: AHSchools

SchoolSparrow gives Monroe Elementary an overall A (10/10) which is much better than the 6/10 given by GreatSchools. This school is worthy of a higher score because of the great results that they produce. Grades 3, 4, and 5 all have earned an overall grade of an A- or better.

Minnesota schools with comparable parent income profiles usually score close to 51 points, meaning 51% of their students meet or exceed the state’s standards. However, Monroe Elementary scores 62 points which is 24% above their peers.

Monroe Elementary is also extremely diverse scoring a 40 out of 40 on the diversity scale. Not only does this school provide quality education but a distinct learning environment as well!

It’s because of these great feats that Monroe Elementary is trending almost 10% upwards compared to last year. Congrats to all staff and students working hard to make these improvements. There’s no doubt that this school is one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs!

Moving near Monroe Elementary? The average listing price of homes in this area is $285,000 making the average price per square foot $146. This is significantly lower than Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average. Check out this listing that falls below both of those prices.

Address: 901 Brookdale Dr. N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444

Website: https://www.ahschools.us/Domain/24

3. Carver Elementary School – Maplewood, MN

Carver Elementary is located in Maplewood which had a population of nearly 41,000 in 2018. It extends along the borders of Saint Paul and is a ten minute drive from downtown.

Photo Courtesy: School District 622

Like the other schools on this list, Carver Elementary exceeds expectations when it comes to test scores. Schools with similar parent income profiles score around 50 points, but Carver Elementary’s scores exceed that by 24% which puts their points at 61 overall!

Still, GreatSchools only gives Carver Elementary a 6/10 overall ranking, but SchoolSparrow gives this school the ranking that it deserves: an A (10/10) overall.

Carver Elementary has an amazing diversity score of 40 points which is the highest score available. Also, for grades 4 and 5, students receive an overall grade of A- or better. This school clearly has a lot to offer, and the recognition as one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs. Congrats to the students and staff of Carver Elementary!

If you are wondering about homes near Carver, the median listing price is $225,000, or $145 per square foot compared to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average of $202. Here is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath townhouse listed for $165,000!

Address: 2680 Upper Afton Rd, Maplewood, MN 55119

Website: https://www.isd622.org/carver

4. Birch Lake Elementary School – White Bear Lake, MN

Birch Lake Elementary is in the White Bear Lake Suburb of the Twin Cities. The population is 23,000. The city is located on White Bear Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area.

Photo Courtesy: MacPhail Center for Music

Birch Lake Elementary earns a diversity score of 10. When it comes to standardized testing, schools with similar parent income profiles score 51 points. At Birch Lake Elementary, however, students are scoring 22% higher, and the school overall scores an actual 62 points!

SchoolSparrow awards Birch Lake Elementary an A (10/10) for everything they do for their students to help them succeed. (Contrast this to Greatschools’ much-too-low score of 6/10…)

Special shoutout to the 5th graders who individually earned an A+ for their outstanding efforts and making Birch Lake one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs!

Curious about homes near Birch Lake Elementary? The median price of homes currently listed in White Bear Lake is $254,950, or $187 per square foot, (lower than the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average of $202). Check out this home currently listed at $280,000 near Birch Lake Elementary. 

Address: 1616 Birch Lake Ave, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Website: https://birchlake.isd624.org/ 

5. Weaver Elementary School – Maplewood, MN

Another exceptional school that is also located in the city of Maplewood is Weaver Elementary, and it shares the same district as Carver Elementary.

Photo Courtesy: School District 622

SchoolSparrow rewards Weaver Elementary with an A (10/10) overall. For grades 3, 4, and 5, students are achieving overall grades of a B+ or higher which is well above average. Yet, GreatSchools has given the same school a rank of 3/10 overall. This is simply an inaccurate rating.

Nonetheless, Weaver Elementary has a reasonable diversity score of 20 out of 40 possible points and is trending upwards 11% in comparison to the previous year!

Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles usually score about 44 points, meaning 44% of their students meet or exceed state standards. The students at Weaver Elementary exceed this average by 23% with a score of 54 points.

There’s no doubt that Weaver Elementary is one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs. Congratulations to all students and staff involved in these efforts!

Searching for a home near Weaver Elementary? The median listing price of homes in the 55109 area is $270,000 with a price per square foot of $150, and here is a 4-bedroom, 2-bath house listed significantly lower than the average price.

Address: 2135 Birmingham St., Maplewood, MN 55109

Website: https://www.isd622.org/weaver

6. Newport Elementary School – Newport, MN

Newport is located along the Mississippi River, southeast of the city of Saint Paul. The population was 3,435 at the 2010 census. Newport has a small town feel right outside of a growing metropolitan area.

Photo Courtesy of Newport Elementary

Like Red Oak Elementary, Newport Elementary also has an excellent diversity score of 30 out of 40. 

Similarly, this school also outperforms on standardized tests! Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 48 points, meaning 48% of their students meet or exceed state standards. 

At Newport, however, 62% of students meet or achieve state standards– which is 30% higher than the expected average! 

Greatschools only ranks Newport Elementary a 6/10, but we at SchoolSparrow recognize their true excellence. They’re one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs, after all!

Newport Elementary achieves an A rating (10/10) on SchoolSparrow for their outstanding hardwork and dedication to their students.Special shoutout to the 5th graders who individually earned an A+ for their excellent effort!

Interested in living near Newport Elementary? The median home value in Newport is $364, and this listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Address: 851 6th Ave, Newport, MN 55055

Website: https://nes.sowashco.org/

7. Oak Hills Elementary School – Lakeville, MN

Oak Hills Elementary is located in Lakeville, a suburb of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, approximately 20 miles south of both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Lakeville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Twin Cities area. The Lakeville suburb has a population of 65,000.

Photo Courtesy: Lakeville Area Public Schools

Oak Hills Elementary has a diversity score of 15 out of a possible 40. When it comes to standardized tests, Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 69 points, meaning 69% of their students meet or exceed state standards. 

At Oak Hills, however, students score 15% higher than this average, and the school overall achieves 79 points!

Don’t be fooled by the 6/10 rating you’ll see on GreatSchools! SchoolSparrow awards Oak Hills Elementary an A (10/10) for their ability to go above and beyond what is expected. This school is truly one of the best elementary schools in the Minneapolis suburbs.

Curious about living near Oak Hills? The median home value in Lakeville is $371,430, and the median list price per square foot in Lakeville is $183. Check out this listing, an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Address: 8640 165th St W, Lakeville, MN 55044

Website: https://isd194.org/oak-hills/ 

8. Gideon Pond Elementary School – Burnsville, MN

Burnsville is a city 15 miles south of downtown Minneapolis. The city lies on the south bank of the Minnesota River, upstream from its confluence with the Mississippi River. As of 2018, the population of Burnsville was 61,000.

Photo Courtesy: SW News

To begin, Gideon Pond Elementary earns a respectable diversity score of 20 out of 40. And what about their test scores? 

Well, Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles tend to score around 47 points, meaning 47% of their students meet or exceed state standards. At Gideon Pond, however, students exceed this average by 22% and the school overall scores 57 points!

While Greatschools scores Gideon Pond Elementary a 6/10, SchoolSparrow sees how much hard work students and faculty at Gideon Pond put in. This school clearly deserves an A rating (10/10) and counts as one of the best Twin Cities suburb schools!

The median home value in Burnsville is $302,370. The median list price per square foot in Burnsville is $184, which is lower than the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average of $202. Don’t miss this 3-bed, 1-bath townhouse currently listed at $229,900. 

Address: 613 E 130th St, Burnsville, MN 55337

Website: https://www.isd191.org/schools/gideon-pond-elementary 

9. Meadow Lake Elementary School – New Hope, MN

Meadow Lake Elementary is in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis with a population around 20,000. Located 12 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, this elementary school was simply too good to leave off the list!

Photo Courtesy: City of New Hope

For starters, Meadow Lake Elementary earns a diversity score of 30. And when it comes to standardized tests, this school exceeds the average by 25%. Overall, the school achieves 49 points. 

What’s more, Meadow Lake is also trending upwards by 29% over the span of just one year! This means their test scores are likely to keep going up…

Don’t be fooled by the 5/10 rating you’ll find on GreatSchools. This school deserves an A rating (10/10) for their outstanding job teaching students, and Meadow Lake Elementary should rank as one of the best Twin Cities suburb schools. 

Looking for homes near Meadow Lake? The median home value in New Hope is $269,402, and this listing is an example of a home you can buy in this school district.

Address: 8525 62nd Ave N, New Hope, MN 55428

Website: https://mle.rdale.org/ 

10. Sunnyside Elementary School – New Brighton, MN

Last, but certainly not the least, is Sunnyside Elementary in the city of New Brighton. The population was around 23,000 in 2018.

Photo Courtesy: Kraus-Anderson (new construction photo)

SchoolSparrow awarded Sunnyside Elementary with an A (10/10) as an overall grade. In comparison, GreatSchools ranked it a 6/10 which is too low for this school’s accomplishments.

Grades 3 and 4 have received overall grades of an A- or higher. Shout out to the individuals who earned an A for their remarkable efforts!

Weaver Elementary also has a diversity score of 20 out of 40 points which adds to the amazing learning environment and proves that it is indeed one of the best Twin Cities suburban schools.

When looking at standardized test scores, Minnesota schools with similar parent income profiles score 56 points which means that 56% of their students meet or exceed the state standards. The students at Weaver Elementary, however, score 65 points. This is 16% higher than the expected average!

Interested in moving near Sunnyside Elementary? The median listing price for the 55112 zip code is $299,900, and the price per square foot is $154 (much lower than the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro average of $202). Take a look at this listing priced $55,000 below the average listing price.

Address: 2070 County Rd H, New Brighton, MN 55112

Website: https://www.moundsviewschools.org/sunnyside

Photo Courtesy: Weston MacKinnon on Unsplas

Help Us Bring Equity to School Rankings

Neighborhoods and schools are being hurt today by the biased school rankings on all the major real estate portals.

All parents want to do the best for their kids, and especially when it comes to education, all parents want their kids in good schools. But a ranking system that steers parents to homogenous schools in wealthy areas does a disservice to everyone.

Schools and their neighborhoods are being hurt today by these biased rankings that steer families away.

Please help us bring equitable school rankings to all families, so they can make a home purchase decision with a more balanced view of school quality.

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