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The best US public schools in America are in these 20 places, Niche study finds

(NEXSTAR) – For families with young children, settling down in an area with great public education can bring both piece of mind and thousands of dollars in savings.

Parents looking for superior K-12 public schooling may want to start their search in the suburbs, according to Niche’s annual study.

Leading all communities in the 2024 Places with the Best Public Schools in America is Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City and home to roughly 18,000 people.

“I grew up in Eastchester and then moved to Scarsdale, it is a beautiful, quaint town. Beautiful homes and town, the kinds you see in movies,” one commenter wrote.

The Westchester County town gets A+ grades for its public schools and family-friendliness, but living there isn’t cheap – the average home value is $1.61 million in February, according to RedFin.

In second place is the Texas suburb of West Lake Hills, located outside of Austin. With a population of 3,360, West Lake Hills “offers residents a rural feel and most residents own their own homes,” according to Niche. While it received C+ grades for diversity and cost of living, West Lake Hills was awarded an A+ for its public schools, family friendliness, jobs and health & fitness. The Austin suburb also happens to be the top place to retire in the state of Texas, according to Niche.

See the top 20 places in the U.S with the best public schools in 2024:

Rank Name Location
1 Scarsdale Suburb of New York City
2 West Lake Hills Suburb of Austin, Texas
3 Rollingwood Suburb of Austin, Texas
4 Long Grove Suburb of Chicago
5 Lincolnshire Suburb of Chicago
6 Roosevelt Borough in New Jersey’s Monmouth County
7 Devon Suburb of Philadelphia
8 Berwyn Suburb of Philadelphia
9 Chesterbrook Suburb of Philadelphia
10 Buffalo Grove Suburb of Chicago
11 Woodbury Suburb of New York City
12 Lexington Suburb of Boston
13 Syosset Suburb of New York City
14 Radnor Township Suburb of Philadelphia
15 Hinsdale Suburb of Chicago
16 Fairbanks Ranch Suburb of San Diego
17 Rancho Santa Fe Suburb of San Diego
18 Del Mar Suburb of San Diego
19 Clarendon Hills Suburb of Chicago
20 Los Altos Hills Suburb of San Jose, California
(Courtesy: Niche)

For the full 2024 rankings see the Niche report.

Niche relies on public data from the Department of Education, U.S. Census, National Center for Education Statistics and more, along with “millions of reviews.” See more on their methodology here.

Education and the pandemic

American schools are still trying to recover after COVID-19 upended in-person schooling and disrupted the educations of millions of young people.

A December 2023 analysis by the Associated Press found that there were an estimated 50,000 students missing from U.S. schools, including public, private and homeschool environments.

While it’s not entirely clear how these students fell through gaps in the education system, experts think many may have experienced homelessness, lost interest or motivation, or struggled with mental health. Others may have been forced to work or take on adult responsibilities.

The latest data is from fall of 2022 and represents an improvement from the same time the year before, when the number of students unaccounted for was more than 230,000.

Still, not all is back to its pre-pandemic “normal.” AP’s nationwide analysis shows lasting disengagement from public school, as Americans turn to other kinds of schooling. Roughly two-thirds of states keep credible enrollment data for either private or homeschooling. Among those states, private schooling grew nearly 8% and homeschooling grew more than 25% from fall 2019 to fall 2022. Public school enrollment remained depressed, according to the AP analysis, down by over 1 million students.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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