Our ranking is based on four factors: safety, education, housing values, and ambiance. The first three measures involve data and the objective analysis thereof; the fourth is entirely subjective, reflecting the exquisite taste of the D Magazine staff.
Because each factor includes multiple statistics (for education, for example, we consider SAT scores, TAKS passing rates, the percent of students who take college entrance exams, and the amount the school district spends on instruction), we created a scale from 1 to 5 for each statistic so that they could be added together. For mean SAT scores, for example, the lowest score (Lancaster ISD’s 799) was assigned a value of 1, and the highest score (Highland Park ISD’s 1196) was given a 5. All other scores fell in between. Doing the same thing for TAKS scores and other measures, we could combine statistics to create an overall education score.
Safety: 25%. Based on statistics for seven crimes: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. We gave twice as much weight to the first four, on the belief that having a gun held to your head was more traumatic than having your gun collection lifted from your attic. Sources: 2010 statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Dallas Sheriff’s Department, Oak Point and Fairview police departments. The Lancaster Police Department never answered our request for current stats, so we used the city’s 2009 stats.
Education: 25%. Calculated from the percent of students passing the TAKS tests in 2011, the mean SAT score of the class of 2010, percent of the class of 2010 taking college admissions exams, and the amount of money each district spent on instructional expenses for the 2009–2010 school year. Many cities have students who go to more than one district. If a district has a statistically significant percentage in more than one district, we averaged each district’s numbers based on percentages. Sources: Texas Education Agency, Highland Park ISD, Carroll ISD, and Sunnyvale ISD (which had its first graduating class in 2011, so we included that year’s information for SAT, TAKS, and college admission exam statistics).
Housing: 25%. Based on the percent of owner-occupied homes in a suburb (40 percent of overall housing score) and increased average home sales price from 2009 to 2011 (60 percent of overall housing score). Sources: North Texas Real Estate Information Systems (NTREIS), 2010 U.S. Census.
Ambiance: 25%. Who is to say that Allen’s strip malls and lookalike houses are more appealing than Coppell’s? Well, we are. While acknowledging that ambiance is a personal preference, we did our best as a staff to find common ground as we hashed out ambiance scores for these 63 towns. We tossed in a walkability score, which is based only on the town’s downtown area—not the vast hinterlands that hold cows or corporate headquarters—but said score wasn’t factored in statistically. Source: staff of D Magazine and WalkScore.com.
D Magazine wishes to thank North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc., without which this story would’ve been statistically improbable.