Ask Eli: Changes Ratings… Again

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you know why changed the ratings for Arlington’s schools?

Answer: Sometime this summer, the popular school rating website changed their rating for most of the schools in Northern Virginia. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they made sweeping changes to their grading system less than a year ago, which I wrote about in March.

The previous changes resulted in a drop of 1-2 points for nearly every school in Northern Virginia, leaving Arlington with high schools rated 5, 4 and 3. The latest adjustments seem to have increased the rating for most schools, but some schools got dinged again like Jefferson Middle. After the latest changes, Arlington’s high schools are rated 8, 6 and 4.

School Ratings Influence Home Prices

If you’re wondering why I’m talking about school ratings in a real estate column it’s because the ratings issued by heavily influence where people buy and how much they’re willing to spend. You can debate the merits of these ratings systems all you want, but the fact is that they play a significant role in real estate.

While generates the most traffic, I find that is much more popular locally and I think it’s due to the fact that they grade harder than Niche (Niche gives out a ton of A-, A, and A+ ratings).

What Changed?

I reached out to for details on why so many ratings were changed and was told something along the lines of “GreatSchools is always improving our rating systems to make sure it is as accurate as possible.”

Through various threads and Googling I did earlier this year, it sounded like the changes earlier this year were due to a new score for how well schools help under-performing students improve year-to-year.

I haven’t been able to find any information on why scores changed so dramatically this time around. If any of the readers have insight into the scoring adjustments, I would love to hear from you in the comments section or by email.

Tracking the Changes

GreatSchools would not provide me with historical ratings, so in March I compared scores I had recorded for clients in Fall ’17 to the new scores in March ’18.

Now that we have another round of changes, I added a column to that table so we can continue tracking past and current scoring trends.

Unfortunately, when I built the table in March I didn’t have any recorded scores for elementary schools and limited middle and high schools in Fairfax County.

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that the most recent adjustments helped almost all of Arlington’s schools, especially the high schools.

The bad news is that it hurts the credibility of and other rating systems because it makes it hard to rely on their ratings when you have a school like Yorktown HS go from a 7 to a 5 to an 8 in under a year.

Ultimately, consumers need to decide for themselves how much they rely on these scores to influence their decisions, but nothing beats talking to neighbors, joining online forums and calling or visiting a school.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Recent Stories

Morning Notes

Robbery at Pentagon City Mall — “1000 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 3:39 p.m. on November 22, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny just occurred….

An Arlington man is behind bars after police say he shot someone in the Green Valley neighborhood. The shooting happened early Sunday morning following what police described as a dispute…

Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…

There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…

The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!

This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.

100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.

For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at

Submit your own Announcement here.

Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.

Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.

Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.

Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

Washington-Liberty Annual Holiday Bazaar

Join us Saturday December 3 from 10 to 4 p.m. at W-L High School, for this much anticipated Arlington holiday tradition! We will be featuring over 65 vendors for gift shopping, our student clubs and activities fundraising booths, and food


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