Best Elementary Schools in the Washington DC Area- 10 of SchoolSparrow’s Out-Performers

SchoolSparrow previously published this list of Top Elementary Schools in the Washington DC Area. Subsequently, we changed our rating algorithm to account for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and Children with Disabilities (CWD) test takers at every school. In addition, the Dept of Education has release new data for the 2018-19 school year. This updated list of SchoolSparrow Out-Performers recognizes high achieving schools that are under valued by other school rating systems. These out-performing schools are rated by our new algorithm and the recent data from the Dept of Education.

Previous Published Out-Performers

Don’t overlook these previously published schools; they still meet or exceed expectations when accounting for parent income and LEP/CWD test takers:

  • Dumfries Elementary, Dumfries, VA
  • Potomac View Elementary, Woodbridge, VA
  • West Gate Elementary, Manassas, VA
  • Carlin Springs Elementary, Arlington VA
  • Graham Road Elementary, Falls Church VA
  • Dorothy I Height Elementary, Washington DC
  • Thomas ES, Washington DC
  • Bruce Monroe ES at Park View, Washington DC

How is SchoolSparrow Different?

Research has shown that the largest influencer of test scores is parent income, not the quality of the school. As a result, ratings algorithms that use straight test scores are biased towards privileged schools. And they unfairly discount schools with socio-economic diversity and schools in poor areas.

The dominant ratings sites will explain that test scores account for only 30% of their overall score for each school. And that may be true, but ratings that utilize a biased metric are still biased ratings. Even if the metric accounts for only 30% of the score.

Consider two schools that have the same overall test scores, and they both score a 7/10. Which school is better? We can’t draw a conclusion without the context of parent income. But if we now reveal that one school is in a ritzy suburb, and the other is in a low income area in the inner city, now we can draw a conclusion. The inner city school deserves a higher score, because they do not benefit from high achievers from high income families. It’s the educator’s making the difference, or factors within the community making a positive impact on the school. That’s why SchoolSparrow elevates out-performing schools by accounting for the socio-economic profile of the school. In the process, we shift focus away from parent income as a metric to rank to schools.

In addition, schools with higher than average population of LEP/CWD students have artificially low scores. But this is dependent on the test performance of these groups. That’s why SchoolSparrow makes adjustments to overall test scores accounting for these test takers. As a result, the playing field is leveled, providing a more substantive comparison between schools.

Read more about our ranking system here.

Misrepresenting Urban Schools is Harmful

Not only are the school ratings you see on the all the real estate search engines steering families toward privileged schools, but also they may be exacerbating the negative effects of gentrification. Without good data about urban schools, affluent families will band together and focus on one or two urban schools in which to send their kids. Word gets around. Additional affluent families make a move to the neighborhood. Over time, real estate costs rise and low income families are displaced resulting in the loss of the school’s vibrancy and culture.

But what if we could expose all the high quality urban schools that are currently obscured by biased ratings? Now instead of the rumor mill focusing gentrification in one or two areas, the gentrification could get spread out over many schools/communities. Perhaps the schools and neighborhoods would stand a better chance of achieving demographic stability, instead of suffering the effects of negative gentrification.


Make your voice heard by retweeting and/or sharing our twitter and facebook call to action, urging all the real estate search portals to show fair school ratings.

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So, without further ado, we present 10 of the Best Elementary School’s in the Washington DC Area. Congratulations to the students, parents, and especially the strong educators at these schools who are making a difference!

1. Belmont Elementary School

Our algorithm assigns Belmont Elementary School a perfect score – an A+ or 10 out of 10 – for their efforts! Greatschools doesn’t see their full achievements and only gave them a 4 out of 10.

Students at Belmont Elementary have continuously excelled on their standardized testing scores. 94.8% of non LEP/CWD students are proficient on the Reading Language Arts section of the standardized test. Similar schools average 43.3% proficient. But here is the amazing part, both the LEP and CWD students are near or above the expected scores for non LEP/CWD students with this income profile! This school does an incredible job educating a wide mix of students, and rest assured that students from all walks of life and abilities will have a top notch education at this out-performing elementary school.

This school has some diversity earning a 10/40 diversity score, and it is one of the best elementary schools in the DC area.

If you’re interested in this fantastic school, the median home price in Woodbridge is $381,959. We’ve found this amazing listing for a four bedroom two bathroom house for only $340,000, located in the attendance boundaries of Belmont Elementary School.

Address: 751 Norwood Ln, Woodbridge, VA 22191


2. C. A. Sinclair Elementary School

C. A. Sinclair Elementary School is underrated by all the real estate search portals, displaying only a 6/10 rating for this school. This score is far too low considering that non LEP/CWD students score over 100% better than the average or expected scores for schools in a similar income bracket when taking parent income into account. That’s why SchoolSparrow’s algorithm awards Sinclair Elementary an A+ (10/10).

The Dept of Education reports that Sinclair students score 70% proficient on the Reading/Language Arts portion of the standardized test. But when you consider that 153 LEP students and 53 CWD students scored 47% and 45%, respectively, the remaining students scored 95% proficient! There is the possibility of double counting if some students are both LEP and CWD, but still, this school is crushing it when it comes to standardized testing. Also, considering the average non LEP/CWD students at schools with similar income profiles score an average of 42.2% proficient, the scores the LEP and CWD students at Sinclair are aremarkable.

No doubt children from all walks of life and abilities will find an amazing educational experience at Sinclair Elementary. Parents, don’t let the 6/10 assigned by a biased rating system turn you way from this amazing school.

Sinclair is one of the best elementary schools in the DC area

Sinclair Elementary has a diversity score of 20 out of 40 which means children at Sinclair enjoy the cognitive and socio-emotional benefits that come with a diverse environment. This school prioritizes the well being of their students, and take great pride in the creativity and interests of their students.

The median home price is only $338,479 in zip code 20109. We found this impressive three bedroom three bathroom townhome priced at $339,000 that is located in the attendance boundaries of Sinclair Elementary. 

Address: 7801 Garner Dr, Manassas, VA 20109


3. Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary School

We gave Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary School a fantastic 10 out of 10, and you can see why! Unfortunately, Greatschools missed the mark by only giving them a 5 out of 10. Read on to find out why this school is perfect on our scale.

91.3% of students score above state testing standards for their grade, which is incredible considering the average or expected score is 40.9% proficient for schools in similar income brackets. Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary students scored over 100% above the average!

We love that the Principal of Elizabeth Vaughn is dedicated to public schools, having sent his own children to public schools in the Prince William County Public School district. We have learned through our research that a strong principal is a critical factor in our out-performing schools, and no doubt the administration and teachers at Elizabeth Vaughan fit this bill perfectly.

Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary School has a respectable diversity score of 15 out of 40 on our scale, and it’s one of the best elementary schools in the DC area.

Want to move to this A+ district? The median home price is $381,959. We’ve found this beautiful 4BD/3BA townhome priced at $289,999 located in the attendance boundaries of Elizabeth Vaughn Elementary.

Address: 2200 York Dr, Woodbridge, VA 22191


4. Kerrydale Elementary School

Kerrydale Elementary School is a lovely school that we found to be seriously underrated being assinged only a 3/10 on all the real estate search portals.

The Dept of Education reports that 65% of kids at Kerrydale are proficient on the Reading/Language Arts section of the standardized test, but when adjusting for LEP/CWD test takers and taking parent income into account, Kerrydale students are killing at over 90% proficient! Considering schools with a similar income profile are averaging 42% proficient after adjusting for LEP/CWD students, it is easy to see why Kerrydale earns an A+ or (10/10) based on SchoolSparrow’s equitable algorithm.

Kerrydale will provide a world class education for any student, from children with disabilities to English language learners, and they have a great gifted program as well. Parents, don’t let the 3/10 you see on the real estate search portals turn you away form this incredible school. This is one of the best elementary schools in the DC area.

Fall in love with this school? The median home price is $381,245 in zip code 22193. Right now there are no homes for sale in the attendance boundaries of this school! But this property is under contract as of the date of this post, perhaps a strong offer could make things swing your way. It’s a 4BD/2BA home last listed for $374,900.

Address: 13199 Kerrydale Rd, Woodbridge, VA 22193


5. Marumsco Hills Elementary School

Marumsco Hills Elementary School is vastly underrated by all the real estate search portals, displaying only a 4 out of 10 for this school. Our algorithm assigns this shining star of a school a perfect score on our rating scale with an A+ (10/10).

93.7% of non LEP and CWD students at Marumsco Hills score better than the state testing requirements. This is incredibly impressive, considering only 40.7% of students at similar schools met the benchmark. Students at Marumsco score over 100% above their expected score!

But the amazing thing about Marumsco is the performance of both the LEP and CWD students, who score 47% and 35% proficient, respectively. This is incredible when compared to the average 41% for NON LEP/CWD students at schools with similar income profiles. Marumsco Elementary will provide an incredible education for children of all abilities and from all socio-economic backgrounds. Parents, don’t overlook Marumsco Elementary because of a low rating on America’s defacto rating system…this system is biased and unfairly discounts schools like Marumsco that have a diverse body of students from all walks of life. It’s a shame that the rating system that parents trust are discounting schools for that very diversity that makes Marumsco a vibrant, inclusive environment for kids.

This school is a great example of how a diverse environment can positively impact your child’s learning and development. Marumsco Elementary scores a 20 out of 40 on our diversity scale, and it’s one of the best elementary schools in the DC area.

If you’re interested in this excellent opportunity, the median home price in Woodbridge is $381,959. We found this 4/BD 3/BA house currently listed for $345,000 in the attendance boundaries of Marumsco Hills Elementary School. It’s only ten minutes away!

Address: 14100 Page St, Woodbridge, VA 22191


6. Cameron Elementary School

Cameron Elementary School does an excellent job of valuing their students backgrounds, interests and cultures, scoring a 40 out of 40 on our diversity scale. This means that students at Cameron come from a wide variety of different racial and cultural backgrounds. Children in a diverse environment like Cameron have higher IQ’s, better teamwork and problem solving skills, and of course increased acceptance of people from different backgrounds. These are the children we want leading the next generation.

Not only does Cameron have the highest amount of diversity, but also Cameron students outperform on standardized tests as analyzed by SchoolSparrow.

Cameron Elemenaty is One of the Best Elementary Schools in Entire DC Area

On the surface, Cameron’s test scores might seem low at 32% proficient as reported by the Dept of Education. Digging deeper into the data, we see that out of 330 total test takers at the school, 236 where English Language Learners and 64 of the test takers where Children with Disabilities. Taking the average score of 32% and adjusting for the 17% earned by LEP students and 5% earned by CWD students, the remaining students score nearly 90% proficient! The average (or expected) score of schools with a similar income profile is 67%. When accounting for parent income and LEP/CWD students, Cameron Elementary earns an A+ or 10/10 based on their incredible student performance.

Greatschools’ biased scoring system awards Cameron Elementary a shockingly low 3/10. Cameron Elementary is one of the best elementary schools in the entire DC area, but parents are being steered away from this school by all the real estate search platforms.

Our hats are off to the students, parents and especially the awesome educators and administration at Cameron Elementary, you are all making a difference.

The average home value in zip code 22303 is $477,304. We found this 3BD single family home currently listed for $425,000 located in the attendance boundaries of Cameron Elementary, and within walking distance of a train to DC!

Address: 3434 Cameron Drive, Alexandria, VA 22303


7. Sugarland Elementary

Sugarland is a hotspot for children that excel at standardized testing. The non LEP/CWD students here are crushing it by exceeding their expected state benchmarks by over 100%. They score 97.8% proficient while their counterparts from similar economic profiles average about 47% proficient.

SchoolSparrow’s algorithm ranks Sugarland Elementary with an A+ (10/10). Greatschools doesn’t see the value that lies in this school and assigns a shockingly low 3 out of 10. Unbelievable.

We know that our out-performers have strong leaders at the helm, and we love the welcome message from Sugarland’s principal:

“Our theme this year is #allin, which means all hands are on deck, working to make Sugarland GREAT!  This will be our epic year!!  Our students know, we are not good; we are GREAT, and we are not average; we are AMAZING!!!”

– Dr. Gail Brady, Principal

This School blew us away and we hope you consider it for your child! However, the median home price is $456,639 in zip code 20164. We’ve found this great 3BD/4BA townhome priced at $365,000 located within the attendance boundaries of Sugarland Elementary.

School Website:

Address: 65 Sugarland Run Dr, Sterling VA 20164

8. R Dean Kilby 

R Dean Kilby is a very underrated school and that is why we present it so proudly on our out-performers list! Greatschools underrates this incredible school with a 4/10. SchoolSparrow loves what this school has been doing and our algorithm assigns an A+ rating, or 10/10.

Students in similar income brackets as children at R Dean Kilby score 42.9 points, but non LEP/CWD students at this school go beyond the call of duty with 93.1% proficiency! Kilby Elementary’s scores are over 100% higher than the 43% average score of schools in similar income brackets.

Diversity is also plentiful at this school. This type of diverse environment can help to create a well rounded pupil that is around a variety of new ideas and people. At R Dean Kilby they have a score of 20 out of 40 which is amazing and increases the value of this school’s education immensely. This school is one of the best elementary schools in the DC area.

This school isn’t the only amazing thing that we found. The median home price in zip code 22191 is $366,527. We found this 2BD/2BA listing in the attendance boundaries, located a short 2 minute walk from the school, and listed for only $215,000! There are no single family homes available at the moment, and those that are listed are under contract.

School Website:

Address: 1800 Horner Road, Woodbridge, VA 22191

9. William Ramsay

William Ramsay is the most underrated school on this list with a 2/10 assigned by Greatschools, and displayed on all the real estate search engines. We wonder what impact these unfairly discounted score is having on the community as a whole.

SchooSparrow’s algorithm assigns William Ramsay its highest score: an A+ or 10/10. So why the big difference?

Let’s dig into the data a bit. On the surface, Ramsay’s overall test scores on the Reading/Language Arts section of the test might look low. The 319 students that took the test scored a combined 43% proficient. But when adjusted for parent income, we see the average or expected score of schools with similar income profiles is 38% proficient. Ramsay is beating expectations, but we haven’t even considered the impact of LEP/CWD students.

That’s where things get really interesting. Out of the 319 students that took the test, 197 were LEP and 22 CWD students, who scored 22% and 30%, respectively. This means the remaining non LEP/CWD students scored an incredible 87% proficient: nearly 130% over expectations!!

Admittedly, there could be some double counting if LEP/CWD students overlap, but even if this overlap is huge, Ramsay’s performance is still exemplary. Our hats are off to the amazing administration, students, teachers and especially the dedicated educators at William Ramsay. There is no doubt this school has strong leadership and a hard working staff all working together towards a world class education for their students.

The real estate nearby is also a great feature of the school. The median home price is $537,456 in zip code 22312. We found this 3BD/2BA condo currently listed at $239,000 located in the attendance boundaries of William Ramsay Elementary.

School Website:

Address: 5700 Sanger Ave, Alexandria, VA 22311

10. Crestwood Elem

Crestwood Elementary is a great option if you’re looking for a place where your child’s potential comes first. 

According to Greatschools, Crestwood is rated 3/10,  but in reality this school is over 100% above the expected score of 48.8, scoring an incredible 97.8% proficient on the Reading/Language Arts section of the standardized test. That’s why SchoolSparrow has awarded Crestwood Elementary our highest score, an A+ or 10/10. Crestwood is one of the best Elementary Schools in the entire Washington DC area.

Crestwood Elementary also considers cultural and linguistic diversity an important factor, having a respectable diversity score of 15. 

Near the school there are great opportunities to live. The median home price is $545,316 in zip code 22150, but we found this slight fixer-upper 2BD/2BA home currently listed at $450,000 with an unfinished 2nd level that could easily make it a 4BD home when finished.

Link to school website:

Address: 6010 Hanover Ave, Springfield VA 22150


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  1. Thank you for sharing the hard work we do at Sugarland!! We are so honored!!! As a principal, we want our staff and students (and families) to be recognized for their hard work! What a great pick-me-up!!

    1. We are so pleased to be able to provide some recognition for your school, you deserve it. Soon we will launch a social media campaign aimed at all the real estate search portals, urging them to include more equitable school ratings. We want parents to make the biggest purchase of their lives with a more balanced view of school quality. You can support this effort by retweeting/sharing when the campaign is launched.

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