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Friday, February 18, 2011

Is the Bay Area Home Buyer Obsessed with School Scores

Many homebuyers in San Mateo, San Bruno, Burlingame, Millbrae and up and down the peninsula purchase their homes based on school scores. I am not sure if API, Academic Performance Index, (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/ ) scores is an accurate evaluation method to determine a young person’s education. I find the API scores of a school to determine the college you child goes to as reliable as a City’s Median home prices is in determining the value of your home. Homes in a city are varied and encompass a large diversified area just like a school’s diversified student enrollment and have high and low performing students.

kids in school

Many of our public schools have a large population of intelligent non- English speaking immigrants. Teachers are trained and cater to that specific group and they also teach to the more advanced student by offering enrichment classes, honor classes, etc. Both of my son’s went to a public High School in San Mateo that possibly has the lowest scores amongst the San Mateo High Schools. They both graduated and went to very good schools. In their graduating class several students were accepted into Harvard, Stanford, MIT and more of the top schools. Some of their friends went to a private high school, were not happy, did not perform well and transferred out. A peninsula high school with a rating of 10 has had an epidemic of suicides. Top scores is not the final answer.

I think some parents feel if their child goes to a high achieving school their child will be a high achiever. I believe an educated, happy and successful child comes more from the family and home not from a school’s API scores. A parent must spend quality time with their child as a person and also as a teacher. They must work as a team with the teacher. They must read to them and listen to the child read. They must review homework and make sure it is completed. President Obama said in his state of the union address (http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2011), "We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair."

I believe some home buying parents depend too much on school scores. I think they should also look at the parent participation, the teacher/student ratio, the teacher relationship with the students and parents, the extracurricular classes, sports, clubs, spirit, music, language classes, art programs, fund raising, and more. They should visit the school and sit in on the class. We must keep in mind some people will perform better when they are the high performer amongst their peers rather than an average performer in a high performing peer group. Often a high self esteem will lead to a more successful, happy and satisfied adult. And isn’t that our goal.


Many buyers whom prefer a high performing school are on the right track. They are probably the same parents that will begin the leaning process in their home. They will read, do math, get involved in class projects and in the school. They will bring up their children with the idea education is of vital importance. In my home it was understood that after High School it was college. In today’s home after college it is advanced degrees. As caring parents we must understand our children. Not every child needs to go to college to be a successful adult. Many of the schools are beginning to offer vocational classes again. I applaud that. There are culinary, mechanic, nursing and other very good programs.

As Margaret Lavin writes in the San Jose Mercury news, http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_16994346?nclick_check=1 "we need to talk to our children. Often that is difficult as we are working long hours and try to have a life also but tete-a-tete with your school aged children is important."

I will close with a quote from Margaret; “Standardized test scores influence teachers reputations, school funding, and of course Real Estate Prices. Being a brainiac is great, but being personable and well rounded also leads to future happiness and success.”

I would love to hear your thoughts.



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