People move all the time in search of better schools for their kids. But where exactly should they move? We first identified the top neighborhood high schools—we didn’t include magnet schools or Highland Park—then ferreted out the best schools feeding into them. Using the TEA’s most recent Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR), our analysis of high schools equally weighs STAAR “satisfactory standard or above” results for all grades and subjects, four-year graduation rates, college-ready standards for math and English/language arts, percent of students who took AP/IB tests, and average SAT scores. For elementary and middle schools feeding into the top neighborhood high school, we used STAAR “satisfactory standard or above” and “advanced standard” results for all grades/subjects.
Woodrow Wilson High School
The most recognized feeder pattern into Woodrow starts with Lakewood and Stonewall Jackson elementary schools and continues with J.L. Long Middle School. Neighborhoods that feed into Woodrow include Lakewood, Hollywood Heights, the M Streets, and Greenland Hills, where houses range from $300,000 to $1.5 million (with a handful of $2 million to $3 million sales each year).
Francie Hansen went through the Lakewood-Long-Woodrow feeder pattern. When she moved back to the area 13 years later with toddler sons, she looked for a house in the Stonewall or Lakewood elementary areas. “I chose our home because I knew that it was in an area that would not be redistricted,” she says.
At the time, houses on the other side of Mockingbird Avenue, one block away, were selling for $50,000 less because they weren’t within the Lakewood Elementary district (they are now).
Plano West Senior High School
Plano West Senior High (grades 11 and 12) scores narrowly better than Plano Senior High in our statistical analysis. Its highest-scoring feeder pattern is Skaggs Elementary, Rice Middle School, and Jasper High School (grades 9 and 10). If you can find one, houses in this area sell from $170,000 to $2.3 million.
Debra Retoff’s twin high school juniors came up through Skaggs-Rice-Jasper. Her daughter is at Plano West Senior High and her son attends Plano East because of the school’s IB program. Schools were the deciding factor when the family built its house in Woods at Russell Creek, and it’s why they never left.
“My daughter has friends who have moved out of the area so they could play sports or have a shot at being in the top 7 to 10 percent,” Retoff says. “But I think she’s so much better prepared for college and life having stayed through that path.”
J.J. Pearce High School
Pearce’s data puts it at the top of Richardson ISD’s four neighborhood high schools. Its most successful feeder pattern includes Brentfield Elementary and Parkhill Junior High.
Residents Jill and Adam Lampert moved one mile to be in this feeder pattern, where prices are breaking records and homes are selling fast. “In the Brentwood-Parkhill-Pearce area, the average days a home stays on the market is 30,” says real estate agent Dan Washburn.
Ten neighborhoods in the far northeastern corner of RISD feed into Pearce: Prairie Creek, Canyon Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Hillcrest Manor, Highlands of McKamy, Prestonwood, Preston Creek, and Preston Trails, as well as parts of the Preston Greens and Richardson Heights subdivisions. Most houses range from $250,000 to $550,000, with a few recently available in Preston Trails priced at $1.3 million to $1.4 million.
Liberty High School
Things are often in flux for this growing suburb. Two of Frisco ISD’s eight high schools, Reedy and Independence, couldn’t even be rated because they’re too new to compare data. Each summer, Stan McDonald, who started selling real estate in Texas in 1997 when Preston was a two-lane road, updates his website as soon as the latest school zones are set. (His wisdom comes from experience. He has been a real estate agent since 1977.)
The most highly ranked feeder pattern into Liberty includes Borchardt Elementary and Fowler Middle School.
Neighborhoods like Hunter Creek and Turnbridge Manor feed into Liberty, the southernmost high school in the district, which actually is in the Plano portion of Frisco ISD. It’s difficult to find homes for less than $300,000 here; recent listings were priced between $314,990 and $2.4 million.
Carroll Senior High School
Stellar high schools are plentiful in this area. But Southlake’s Carroll Senior High School stands out. “My daughter had a 98 average in high school and was not in the top 30 percent of the class,” says Ruth Callahan, who moved to Southlake from New Jersey when her kids were 8, 7, and 3.
The top feeder pattern in this area is Old Union Elementary (K through 4), Eubanks Intermediate (5 and 6), Dawson Middle (7 and 8), Carroll High School (9 and 10), and Carroll Senior High School (11 and 12). But Southlake residents aren’t too concerned about which feeder pattern they move to, because the schools are equally respected.
New residents are, however, often drawn to the Timarron neighborhood that feeds into Old Union because of its range of price points. It’s a high range. Buying into the Old Union boundaries will cost between $2.5 million and $4 million.