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Ask Adam: Real Estate & Elementary Schools

by ARLnow.com | March 5, 2013 at 11:30 am | 1,121 views | 29 Comments

This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: We are going to be moving from Maryland to Northern Virginia with our 6 and 9 year old.  We are not familiar with Arlington yet and I am wondering if you can point us in the direction of any tools that will help us find the right elementary school district for our future home. 

First of all, welcome to Northern Virginia.  It seems all too rare an occasion that someone makes a move from one side of the Potomac River to the other.

In regards to researching elementary schools in Arlington, you may want to explore GreatSchools.org.  Each school gets a 1-10 rating based on a comparison of test results within the state.  Of course, they also recommend factoring in other information, including the quality of each school’s teachers, the school culture, special programs, etc.. You may want to start that process by reading the reviews on GreatSchools.org.  This is where parents, teachers and students can post reviews.

Since receiving your question, I spent some time creating a list of all the elementary schools in Arlington. I included in the list, the GreatSchool.org rating, median home sales price in the school’s district and a link to listings in that district.  Below is a sample of the list.

Abingdon

Ashlawn

Barcroft

Barrett

If you find this guide helpful, you can click the following link and bookmark the full list of Arlington public elementary schools.  It’s only meant to give you a very high level view of your options, but I think it can be a great place to start.

I’m hoping that some of our readers will provide additional advice, tips and tools in the comments.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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  • BluemontFred

    Do not use greatschools.net. Their data is outdated. call the school system directly and talk with them about the different options available to you and your family.

    • Arlington Cat

      Adam, Did you know in many cases you have choices in elementary schools? You don’t have to send your children to the neighborhood school.

      Greatschools.NET is outdated. Thank you for pointing it out.

      • StuckInLodiAgain

        Having attended the APS introduction night for new parents this year, there are not many choices at all to switch among elementary schools. If and when new elementary space is built/repurposed those options might become available again.

      • drax

        No, you don’t have a choice in elementary schools. If you did, we wouldn’t have all this redistricting stuff going on, because anyone would just go wherever they want.

        • C

          You don’t have a choice of neighborhood school, but there are choice schools in Arlington. Some of these are by lottery and others depend on district. Not many options, but to say there is no choice is incorrect.

  • jackson

    What’s your firm’s policy on homeowners’ underthings?

  • Arlington Chris

    If you are using greatschools.net, be sure to look at their detailed reports — not just their over-all rating. Their reports have data on demographics, teacher-to-children ratio, breakdown of scores by student group, etc. Just looking at the over-all score won’t get you much.

    • Greg

      +1. Many of the schools listed above have lower scores because they have a higher percentage of lower income students. But if you break out the test scores, you will find that the non-economically disadvantaged students at many of those schools are beating the similar category of students at the wealthier schools.

      • drax

        And this is a great comment. It’s not like the school is the only factor in a student’s success.

  • C

    You can see just about all the data you need on the APS website.

  • meh…

    It doesn’t even appear that the names of the schools are correct on the Greatschools.org website! Not so sure that was a good recommendation. Bottom line is that Arlington County Schools are generally great. There will be some that down rate schools because they aren’t located in the more prestigious (wealthy) districts of the county, don’t listen to those people. Get on the local listserv for the neighborhoods that you’re targeting and reach out with your question there. You’re bound to get some great honest feedback that way….

  • Navybone

    Be aware that APS is looking at changing the boundaries for many of the North Arlington students. Check out APS More Seats More Students section to see if the areas you are looking at will be impacted.

  • SnoopyNeighbor

    Is it odd that a house for sale would have two open houses on consecutive weekends, with the same agency, but using two different agents?

    • Confused

      Why would that be odd?

    • Helen

      Usually, the lsting agent is not able to do the open house and the seller request one. The listing agent will then ask another agent to hold the house open. The agent is hoping to pick up new clients or to sell that home. Also the listings belong to the broker and they may wish the open houses be shared within the office, especially with this market of low inventory.

  • ph7

    Adam, your company is paying good money for this posting slot. Don’t just phone it in.

    • ArlParent

      Yeah. Greatschools is not a good indicator of what a school is really like. This post is weak.

      • Adam G.

        Do you have a better one that you can share with us?

    • Adam G.

      I’ll accept that. Please understand that due to the fair housing laws, this is a subject agents really have to tip toe around.

      • Married to a Realtor

        Just to piggyback on Adam’s comment here, fair housing laws essentially prohibit real estate agents from making recommendations regarding schools. Although one of the first things many potential home buyers say to their agent is “are the schools good” or “we want to buy where there are good schools” agents are generally not allowed to answer these questions. Many agents do, but they risk getting into a lot of trouble.

        • ph7

          Not really. Fair Housing Act prohibits steering. Commenting on the quality of a school isn’t steering. But, some realtors avoid the question, because, in context, and usually combined with other more overt actions, it could be considered indicia of steering. The problem is that there is precedent for using descriptions of schools as “code” for racial steering. “They have a significant ESL student body at the school” would be an example. But commenting on truthful objective facts regarding the overall academic performance of the school is fine.

  • Clara

    Greatschools is a start, but it’s very subjective. On each APS elementary school website is a link for the school’s report card from the state. It lists what percent of students pass the state mandated tests, how many teachers are licensed at the school, etc. It’s much for factual and accurate.

  • Mary-Austin

    Adam, are you going to be at the Homeshow this weekend?

    • Adam G.

      I don’t think so

  • Gleagle

    Adam – FYI – on your website, the link to “listings in the Glebe district” brings up a single listing – a house on Glade road in Maryland.

  • Chad D.

    This is a good column, I am coming up on both. I have a toddler getting ready for school in about a year and will be looking to buy my first home. Time fly’s when you have children so i’ve been doing research now to prepare. I’m going to check out this link, thanks.

  • DMU

    Good way to get info on Arl Public schools is to check out their website. Each elementary school has a different focus My 8 yo son goes to Abingdon and loves it!

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