The 5 Highest Rated K-8 Schools in Portland in 2021

portland neighborhood schools

As we’ve noted before, school rankings and performance have a tangible impact on real estate prices. Areas with high-performing schools will see more demand and therefore higher price tags. This is even more true today, in the age of the internet. More school information than ever is available at your fingertips. While what makes a good school is very subjective (data points won’t describe the dedication of a teaching staff, for example), having this information is a great way to get a feel for where to find great schools.

Under the Fair Housing Act, Realtors can’t “steer” you towards a certain school district. These regulations are meant to prevent discrimination; real estate agents shouldn’t be pushing a client towards a certain neighborhood because of their race, for example. (The National Association of Realtors has an excellent article explaining more about what constitutes steering.) So it’s important for buyers to educate themselves about the schools in the areas they’re looking at. If you come to your real estate agent already armed with this information, they can put their local knowledge to use to find the perfect home in the perfect area for you.

How Do School Ratings Work?

As we mentioned above, school ratings can only tell you so much. But we’ve found two resources that have provided reliable essential data on Portland area schools over the years.

GreatSchools.org. GreatSchools is a nonprofit organization that provides a score out of ten based on student progress, test scores, and equity (how students of difference fare in comparison with the student body as a whole). They also provide statistics on student and staff demographics. Trusted by parents for years now, GreatSchools considers its mission to be to empower parents in their navigation of the school system.

Oregon Department of Education. Every year the ODE publishes “At-A-Glance School and District Profiles.” These look something like a report card, providing stats about graduation rates, demographics, even if the school has had the same principal for at least three years. This past year’s reports (2019-2020) look a little different as a result of distanced learning during the pandemic. Normally, you’d get a little more data on things like attendance rates. This past year, unfortunately, made it impossible to publish reliable data. But these profiles are still an excellent way to get a feel for how a school is performing. Note that you will have to look up the school in question by school district. GreatSchools always lists the school district at the top of the page.

Top 5 Highly-Rated K-8 Schools in Portland

Portland Public Schools started transitioning to a K-8 model about 15 years ago, and it can cause some stress for parents who feel uncomfortable with kids of such varying ages being under the same roof. That’s why, using the two resources listed above, we’ve gathered up the top 5 highly-rated K though 8 schools in the Portland metro area. One of the biggest factors we kept in mind was a low student to teacher ratio, ideally lower than the state average of 20:1. Beyond test scores, having more time for individual attention is what makes large schools like these high quality centers for learning for all students.

1. Riverdale Grade School

  • Location: Southwest Portland between the Riverwood and Dunthorpe neighborhoods. Tyron Creek State Natural Area borders these neighborhoods, so green space is readily available.
  • Number of Students: 414
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 18:1
  • GreatSchools Ranking: 10
  • ODE Profile: 89% teacher retention, same principal for at least 3 years
  • What Stands Out: This school also employs educational assistants. If you add these employees to the total number of teachers, it brings the student to teacher ratio down to 14! That’s great news for any parent of a child who flourishes with a little personalized attention.

2. Skyline Elementary School

  • Location: Speaking of greenery, this school is situated just outside of Forest Park, just off of Skyline Boulevard. That’s pretty hard to beat if you’re talking nature.
  • Number of Students: 248
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
  • GreatSchools Ranking: 10
  • ODE Profile: 79% teacher retention, same principal for at least 3 years
  • What Stands Out: Skyline runs a renowned International Baccalaureate program, which prepares students for an increasingly globalized world. And while it’s not the most diverse school in Portland, according to GreatSchools disadvantaged students at this school consistently perform much higher than the state average.

3. Winterhaven School

  • Location: Right in the center of the cozy Brooklyn neighborhood, which is just North of Westmoreland and Sellwood. Or head north and you’re in the thick of inner Southeast Portland.
  • Number of Students: 299
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 19:1
  • GreatSchools Ranking: 10
  • ODE Profile: A whopping 95% teacher retention (and 100% of those teachers have more than 3 years of experience). Same principal for at least 3 years.
  • What Stands Out: On GreatSchools, Winterhaven scored very high for both test scores and for student progress (a metric they use to determine how much progress students are making from one year to the next). These two in combination means kids are retaining what they learn.

4. Portland Village School

  • Location: Now for a little trip to North Portland. Situated between Kenton and Arbor Lodge, and is a short trip away from St. John’s and its famous Cathedral Bridge.
  • Number of Students: 390
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 17:1
  • GreatSchools Ranking: 8
  • ODE Profile: 74% teacher retention
  • What Stands Out: Portland Village School is a public charter school, using the Waldorf education method. One thing this means is a focus on art, which is integrated into the classroom every day.

5. Creative Science School

  • Location: Just south of Berrydale Park in the increasingly attractive Montavilla neighborhood.
  • Number of Students: 468
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 20:1
  • GreatSchools Ranking: 7
  • ODE Profile: 90% teacher retention, same principal for at least 3 years.
  • What Stands Out: Creative Science School subscribes to the constructivist learning method, meaning they believe students construct knowledge, rather than simply passively taking it in. So expect a hands-on, student-focused teaching style at this school (which is not just for the sciences, despite the name).

How to Find the Right Portland School for You

Buying a house is enough work without having to research schools. But using resources like GreatSchools and the Oregon Department of Education’s report cards can give you a quick glimpse that still says a lot. We also recommend checking out portlandmaps.com’s school map, which is a quick and easy way to figure out what district you’re in. And since we’re doing so much more online during the pandemic, taking a peek at the Portland Neighborhood Guide won’t hurt either (and will list the schools that serve each neighborhood).

When you’re ready to take the plunge, contact our top 1% buyer’s team! Our local knowledge is unbeatable, and we are here to assist you through the process of finding your dream home.

April 2, 2021
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call him direct: 503-714-1111 for Oregon or 360-470-7777 for Washington.

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