Choosing a school when moving to the USA

Many people with children planning to move to the USA have heard about the need to carefully choose their area of ​​residence. It is especially important to understand which schools belong to the selected address.

After moving, the head usually goes around and there is no time to understand the intricacies. It is important to understand and remember the following: sites of real estate agencies and aggregators such as Zillow do not provide relevant and correct information about a particular address belonging to a particular school!

Below is a step-by-step guide for identifying schools associated with a specific address and analyzing these schools.


At first, a small cheat sheet (information may vary slightly for different states):

Elementary School - from K (Kindergarten) to 5th grade (from 5/6 to 10/11 years)

Middle School - from 6th to 8th grade ( from 11 to 14/15 years)

High School - from 9th to 12th grade (from 15 to 18 years old)

K-8 - combined Elementary + Middle, is more common in areas of new development and sparsely populated areas.

Charter school - charter schools. Private schools with public funding. They require a separate story. In short, they get to a good charter school by lot. Therefore, you can’t focus on them, as on the school "default"

Magnet school - specialized schools with additional subjects.

Sometimes it is possible to study at the same school of all ages K-12 (often in different buildings). It is important to understand that in this case, school ratings will most often refer to High School.

In any case, you need to carefully read and verify all the information in each case.

1) By far, one of the most convenient sites for finding real estate is You

can start a search from it. The site’s interface is intuitive, but the boundaries of the districts related to schools are not completely and not always correctly indicated.

For the first acquaintance, you can make a filter by the rating of schools by disabling private, charter and choosing a rating of more than 7. Decent areas are already visible by the concentration of good schools. Please note that Zillow uses site , the interpretation of which is a separate conversation.

So, we have roughly defined the area where we want to live. By turning on the filter at the rental or purchase price, we are sadly convinced that there are very few options.

But it’s important to make sure that the options that exist are suitable for us.

We look at the information about the selected object:

In this case, the agent did the work of checking the correctness of the information about the school. And his information confirms Zillow data. This is a fairly rare option, but even then I recommend making sure the information is correct.

More often, another picture is visible:

Here is a strange situation. On Zillow, only Elementary and Middle are listed. The agent gives three schools, but the Middle school is different.

Let's try to figure out and find these schools

We proceed to the next step:

2) We determine the County of interest to us.

County is the smallest autonomous territorial entity in the United States. In total there are more than 3000 pieces. They are responsible for schools in their territory. The biggest problem is that counties most often have unique sites, registration, accounting systems, etc.

Very often counties divide one city into several parts. Sometimes in a rather unexpected way. Orlando Division Example (Florida):

As you can see, Orlando is divided into 3 counties. And 3 more counties cover distant suburbs.
You can determine the count by using the service or similar.

I am sure that everyone knows what ZIP is, but let me remind you that this is a five-digit postal code, usually indicated at the end of the address, after the name of the state. In the examples above, ZIP 32828 and 32746.
On the above resource, make sure that it is Orange County and Seminole County

3) We are looking for a link to the service for determining the ownership of schools to the address. Due to the fact that the sites of all counties are different and oversaturated with information, it is often difficult to quickly find the path to the service. The easiest option is to type in Google a request, such as: " orange county school enrollment "

Гугл услужливо подсунет нужную ссылку. Переходим по ней и заполняем форму. Кажется, что тут все очевидно, но здесь начинает сказываться отсутствие единого подхода и проявляются баги и глюки. Иногда появляется чувствительность к регистру, лишним пробелам и пр.

Если какой-то конкретный дом не удается «пробить» нужно проверить пару соседних, взяв адрес с той-же Zillow.

Есть и альтернативный вариант – найти на сайте каунти карту школьных зон, но там часто границы трудно четко определить.

Заполняем и получаем список школ:

В данном случае, видно, что для Elementary и Middle адрес обслуживает одна школа: Wedgefield, которая является PK-8, т.е. берет детей от детского сада до 8-ого класса включительно.

Для Seminole County картина совершенно иная:

Please note that the real situation does not match either the agent data or the Zillow site data.

Moreover, for Elementary, a certain Region2 is indicated. This means that several Elementary schools are tied to this address at once. We get a specific list by clicking on the link:

Specifically, for the 2nd region, there are three Elementary at once, one of them being Magnet, i.e. with specialization.

Unfortunately, it usually happens that these schools are very different in quality. Parents can choose, but when places run out in a good school, distribution by lot begins. In short, if there is a bad school on the list, and you start to study from the middle of the year, the chances are very good that you will get into the worst, as good schools will no longer have places.

Now you need to check the quality of schools. To do this, go to the next step.

4) We break through the school on rating sites. There are several popular school assessment sites in the United States whose methods differ. It is worth paying attention to the following:

Each site has its pros and cons. Analysis of the school on all sites allows you to get an integrated assessment.

Fortunately, Google itself customizes links:

Please note that Schooldigger is the least popular site and does not always appear on the first page. But, in this case, we are lucky and the links go in a row.

Also, the problem is that due to the popularity of some names, there may be several schools with the same name in different states. You need to carefully monitor this, paying attention to County.

Let's try to consider the result.


It is Niche that many realtors are guided by when they promise the A-rated School.

However, the problem is that Niche's rating is integral and only partially depends on academic success. It can be seen that this school has A + only in variety. It implies ethnic composition: Latinos, Black American, etc.

You can see in more detail below:

Also an important indicator “Free or Reduced Lunch” is an indirect indicator of income level. The lower this indicator, the better.

6) Now let's see Greatschool

Here the assessment is on a 10-point scale. 4/10 - bad.

This site has the most reviews, where parents and students rate the school. It is also necessary to pay attention to this.

If you watch school 9/10 or 10/10 - carefully read the reviews. Often parents complain that for good grades they put a lot of pressure on their children. They describe bowling, etc.

7) Well, and, finally, the most unpopular rating on schooldigger.

I like this site, as it is most convenient to watch academic results on it. The position of the school in the overall ranking throughout the state is also visible: 1451 place out of all 2118 Elementary schools in all of Florida. Poorly.

Apparently, the realtor in this case tried to mislead.

Indeed, at the address: “4540 Messina Dr, Lake Mary, FL 32746” there is a small chance to get into a good Lake Mary Elementary School, but there is a much higher chance of being in a bad Wicklow Elementary.

School Digger is also interesting in that it allows you to compare different counties and areas, sorting them by school ratings. Find the best schools in various sections, etc.

With it, you can select several ZIPs for which you are already looking for a rental or sale on Zillow or on Craiglist .

For example, you can see the ranking of school districts throughout Florida:

Unfortunately, there is no universal solution. You always have to compromise.

Have a nice move and search!

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