Colorado has 300+ days of sunshine a year (that’s more sunshine than Hawaii folks!). Colorado is paradise for anyone who likes to commune with nature, so it’s no wonder that people are moving here. For parents making a move to the Denver area, schools will be a major consideration in their home purchase. Parents want to know: what are the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area?
Our experience has shown that parents want a 7 rating or higher. And If a school is lower than a 7, they will likely pass over the school, and the neighborhood and homes the school serves.
But parents, watch out!
Those ratings are biased, and they will absolutely steer families away from the best schools in the Denver Metro area.
The reason is test scores are 70-80% attributed to family income, not school quality. The dominant school ratings system in the US, as published on the major real estate search portals like Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com, does account for each school’s demographics. The result is unfair ratings where homogenous schools where parents have high incomes tend to get high ratings, and schools where parents have diverse or moderate to low incomes tend to get low ratings.
Should the size of parent’s wallets should be a factor in assessing school quality?
What is an Out-Performing School?
An Out-Performing school rates below a 7 on all the real estate search portals, but on our more equitable rating system, the same school rates 7 or higher.
Nearly every city in the US has underrated high-quality schools. As a result, parents tend to overlook these schools and the surrounding neighborhoods and homes, which has a negative impact on these areas from an economic perspective.
This is why we’ve developed a more fair and equitable rating system that shifts focus away from parent income and more truthfully delivers an assessment of school quality.
Our rating system has been updated after being validated (and improved) by professional data scientists. So our previous post was published using an earlier version of our algorithm. You can read more about our algorithm here.
Below are the top 7 elementary schools in the Denver Metro area that parents are likely to overlook because an unfair ratings system has assessed inaccurate low ratings. You can see the ratings of all Colorado schools at this link.
Click Here if you’d like to help set the record straight about these awesome public elementary schools.
711 East Euclid Avenue
Centennial, CO 80121
Highland Elementary operates in the top 2% of schools in the State of Colorado. They score a 10/10 on our more truthful rating system that focuses on student performance. The other guys assign this awesome school a 6/10. There is little doubt that some parents overlook Highland Elementary as a result of this unfair rating. And these parents are completely unaware that this is a high-quality school where kids from all walks of life will get a world class education.
Our algorithm predicts the average or expected % of kids deemed proficient based on the demographics of the school. For Highland Elementary (and schools with similar demographics), the average % proficiency on the Reading/Language Arts section of the test is 61.6%.
Highland Elementary is one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro Area.
Students at Highland Elementary absolutely slay the expected score with 82% proficiency! That’s 33% higher than what is already a relatively high expectation.
Highland Elementary has a diversity score of 10/40. This means at least two races are represented by at least 10% of the student body. Students at Highland Elementary will get some exposure to diversity and reap some of the benefits that come with being part of a diverse environment.
Part of the Littleton School District no. 6 in the county of Arapahoe, Highland Elementary is led by Principal Leslie Dominick. From her welcome letter:
“Student success is at the center of what we believe. Through teamwork with all stakeholders including staff, community, parents, and students we will collaboratively have continued success in all areas.“
And one thing is clear, this school is focuses on the whole child. From their website:
“At Highland, we recognize the need to address both academic as well as social emotional needs of all students. It is essential to give students what they need. Our goal for students is to be well-rounded individuals and ensure that they go forward with the tools that they need to be a productive citizen in our world.“
So parents, run, don’t walk, to the next Highland Elementary open house. Our hats are off to Highland Elementary’s students, parents, administration, and especially the hard working and dedicated teachers at this awesome school.
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $614,695. We found this 4BD/2BA home that is currently listed for $575,000 within walking distance of the school.
2008 Pine Street
Boulder, CO 80302
We don’t usually get into the architecture of the schools that we write about, but we can’t help but mention that Whittier elementary was built in 1882 and its a nationally recognized historic landmark. We especially like the building’s initial use: a school!
And what is happening inside this building today is especially appropriate for Colorado’s oldest continuously operating school.
Whittier Elementary is one of the best schools in the the Denver Metro area. They are operating in the top 4% of public schools in the State of Colorado.
Our algorithm predicts an average or expected score of 48.6% proficient on the RLA section of the standardized test. But Whittier students are seriously outperforming this benchmark at 67.0% proficient. That’s nearly 38% over expectations!
As a result of their incredible performance, Whittier elementary has well deserved 10/10 rating on SchoolSparrow, while the other guys assign a lowly 6/10.
Parents, please don’t believe the ratings you see on all the real estate search portals! This school is a high-quality learning institution. Consider Principal Sarah Oswick’s description of the heart of Whittier Elementary:
“…the heart of our school – a community of civically-engaged people seeking to improve the world through intercultural understanding and respect.”
And from their website:
“Whittier is a neighborhood school with an international focus, serving students from more than 20 countries. As an authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program school, Whittier incorporates the BVSD curriculum, state standards and an internationally recognized academic framework. “Inquiry” is a primary strategy used to integrate higher-order thinking, questioning and application of content knowledge through science and social studies. In addition, students in K-5 are introduced to Spanish as a world language.”
Whittier Elementary has a 20/40 diversity score, so parents can rest assured that students at Whittier are receiving the benefits of diversity: better teamwork, better social-emotional skills, and more acceptance of other cultures
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $1,095,153. We found this 3BD/2BA home currently listed for $794,950 in the attendance boundaries.
3051 S. Elm Street
Denver, CO 80222
Bradley International is one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area. Not to mention the State of Colorado! The students at this high-quality school perform in the top 4% of schools in Colorado.
Our algorithm, validated by professional data scientists, predicts the average score for schools with demographics similar to Bradley International. The expected score is 45.9% proficient.
But Bradley International kills this hurdle with 64.0% proficiency, or nearly 40% better than expected. As a result of this outstanding performance, Bradley International is rated a 10/10 on SchoolSparrow. The other guys fall short assigning a 6/10 partly because they don’t account for school demographics.
In addition to this incredible student performance, Bradley International has a respectable 20/40 diversity score. Students at Bradley are receiving benefits that cannot be replicated at homogenous schools. Those benfits include better teamwork and decision skills, and more acceptance and tolerance of different races and cultures.
Consider their mission statement from Bradley’s website:
“Bradley International School strives to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people with a sense of community, a respect and tolerance for diversity, and a love of learning. Bradley provides a challenging 21st century curriculum to prepare our students for a promising future.”
Located in School District No. 1 in the county of Denver, Bradley International is led by Principal Stephen Wera. Principal Wera on Bradley’s philosophy:
“At Bradley, our cornerstone philosophy is the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which focuses on integrated and robust units of inquiry. The Programme develops internationally-minded students and instills invaluable attitudes and attributes.”
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $572,200. We found this 3BD/3BA home currently listed at $394,900 in Bradley’s attendance boundary.
1220 Eisenhower Drive
Boulder, CO 80303
Eisenhower Elementary School is part of the Boulder Valley School District and is led by Principal Brady Stroup.
This high-quality school has a low 6/10 rating and parents are undoubtedly getting steered away from Eisenhower Elementary. But Eisenhower Elementary is one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area.
Our more equitable rating system recognizes the incredible student performance at Eisenhower, and our algorithm assigns a well deserved 10/10 rating.
Consider the data: our algorithm predicts an average score for schools with similar demographics of 56.8%. Eisenhower students blow this score out of the water with 73% proficiency on the RLA portion of the test!
Eisenhower has a 10/40 diversity rating, so students at Eisenhower are seeing at least some of the benefits that come with diversity, such as better social emotional skills, more acceptance of people from different races and cultures, and possibly even higher IQ’s.
Consider the mission statement at Eisenhower from their website:
“At Eisenhower Elementary School, our vision is to fully develop the potential of every individual child. We are a community dedicated to learning and to preparing every student for real-life experiences in both the present and the future.”
Principal Stroup has this comment in his welcome letter to parents:
“We have high expectations for all students in academics, behavior, and respect to others. We offer a variety of academic and social programs for both advanced and struggling learners including Talented and Gifted, Special Education, and English Language Development.”
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $832,882. We found this 2BD/2BA home which is currently listed for $479,600 in the attendance boundaries of Eisenhower Elementary.
6700 E VIRGINIA AVE
DENVER, CO 80224
The Denver Green School (DGS) is an Innovation School located in Southeast Denver. DBS has earned a 10/10 SchoolSparrow rating based on their out-performing student performance.
Our more truthful algorithm predicts an average 34.4% proficiency rating on the Readling/Language Arts section of the standardized test for schools with similar demographics. Student’s at DBS exceed expectations by over 42% with 49% proficiency!
The other guys fall short with a 6/10 rating for this high-quality school.
Denver Green School is one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area, not to mention the State of Coloardo.
But that’s not even the best part of this exemplary institution. DBS has a 40/40 diversity rating! There is no doubt that students at DGS are the recipients of all the cognitive and social-emotional benefits that come with high diversity: better teamwork and decision making skills, better social-emotional skills, high acceptance of others from diverse socio-economic and racial backgrounds, familiarity with and inclusion for others from different cultures, and even higher IQ’s.
Denver Green School is one of the best schools in the Denver Metro area, not to mention the State of Coloardo.
And for diverse learners, Denver Green School should be on every parent’s short list. From their website:
“As a national beacon for real-world learning, we integrate a flexible student-driven approach to achieve success with diverse learners.”
“We are a National Green Ribbon School award winner and have been identified as both a “high-performing” and “high-growth” school. For the past two years we’ve received the highest school performance framework rating of “distinguished”. This means we are a blue school on the SPF. This is largely the result of our ability to show high growth with a wide diversity of learners.”
“In addition to our academic success, we are proud of our “hands-on, brains-on” approach to learning where students get outside the classroom and bring learning to life. DGS is a school that focuses on building a strong community and integrates our sustainability curriculum with core content standards.”
DGS also has a unique approach to school leadership. Instead of the traditional Principal/ Assistant Principal structure, DGS has 3 Lead Partners that collaborate to lead the school. Consider the philosophy of one of the lead partners, Frank Coyne:
“At the heart of my educational philosophy is the strong belief that students will learn best by “doing”—but not merely doing for the sake of experience, rather I believe that students have a hunger to learn while working to solve problems-problems that matter to them. I believe DGS will provide such relevance and engagement, and students will be more connected and have a huge stake in education and the world in which we live. …Call it service-learning, call it civic engagement, I call it my life’s work.”
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $591,228. We found this 3BD/2BA home currently listed for $227,900 in the attendance boundaries of DGS.
3050 South Vrain Street
Denver, CO 80236
Sabin World Elementary School is a Denver Public School that is unfairly underrated as displayed on the major real estate portals. This is certainly steering families away from one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area. What impact is this having on the neighborhood around Sabin Elementary?
Our more equitable rating system predicts that students at schools with similar demographic profiles will, on average, score 31.6% proficient on the RLA section of the standardized test. But students at Sabin far exceed this expected score with 46.0% of students scoring proficient. This level of out-performance puts Sabin elementary in the top 7% of schools in the State of Colorado.
That’s why this high-quality elementary school has a 10/10 student performance rating on SchoolSparrow, while the other guys give this school a 6/10 rating, partly because they don’t account for the biggest influencer of test scores: parent income, not school quality.
Sabin has a 20/40 diversity rating, so students here are benefiting from the many cognitive and social-emotional advantages that cannot be replicated at homogenous schools.
Sabin is in DPS District 1 and is led by Principal Kirsten Frassanito. Consider her comments in the welcome letter from Sabin’s website:
“I believe that all of us – the school and the community – must work together in an extended family environment to ensure success for all our students. I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to empower children with the creative, intellectual, and decision-making skills necessary for them to become academically, socially, physically, and emotionally successful and responsible.”
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $506,386. We found this 3bd/2ba home within walking distance of Sabin World Elementary.
16000 E. Maxwell Place
Denver, CO 80239
Lena Archuleta Elementary School in Denver is rated a 9/10 on our more truthful school performance rating system. Our ratings are more truthful because we account for the most influential factor in student performance on test scores: parent income.
The other guys don’t account for the demographics of different schools, and as a result, their test score ratings tell you more about parent income than actual school quality. The other guys give Archuleta a 6/10 rating which is too low for this high quality school.
Our ratings tell you more about how the school itself is influencing test scores. SchoolSparrow’s rating algorithm is a multi-variable regression that predicts the average test score given a school’s demographic profile (among other factors). For Archuleta Elementary, our algorithm predicts that 31% of Arculeta’s students will test proficient on the RLA section of the standardized test.
But Archuleta far exceeds expectations with 45% of kids scoring proficient! This school is doing something right and they are doing a great job at educating kids.
That’s why Archuleta is one of the best elementary schools in the Denver Metro area, and they are performing in the top 8% of schools in the State of Colorado.
Archuleta Elementary has a diversity score of 10/40. This means at least two races are represented by at least 10% of the student body. Students at Archuleta Elementary will get some exposure to diversity and reap some of the benefits that come with being part of a diverse environment.
Archuleta Elementary is led by interim Principal Karen Matson, and it’s clear this school has high expectations from their students. Consider Principal Matson’s comments in her welcome letter on their website:
“We expect a lot from our kids. We expect them to learn all they need to become productive members of the workforce, keeping the U.S. dominant in the global economy. We expect them to master challenging content in literacy, math, science and other subjects, while also developing their talents and creativity. We expect them to be healthy and mindful of the need to stay active. Schools can’t give kids all they need with just reading, writing and math. Archuleta uses school programs to supplement the education of its students.”
Finally, the average home value in this zip code is $407,552. We found this 4BD/2BA home currently listed for $369,000 in the attendance boundaries of Lena Archuleta Elementary.
Help Set the Record Straight
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@zillow @redfin @realtordotcom, so many of our awesome public schools are underrated and parents are being steered away from some of the best schools in the Denver Area. Please display more fair and truthful ratings via @schoolsparrow.Tweet
Our mission is to bring equitable school rankings to all families in the US, so that a home purchase decision can be made with a more balanced view of school quality. Today school rankings are biased towards privileged neighborhoods, and they unfairly discount schools with the socio-economic diversity. We aim to bring equity to school rankings.