Monday, March 12, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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The more affluent neighborhoods are generally more likely to have the best schools in the valley, according to a Las Vegas Sun analysis of Clark County school ranking data released last month.
The Clark County School District became the first district in Nevada to implement a school ranking system when it launched its “School Performance Framework” in late February. The framework ranks Las Vegas elementary and middle schools on a one- to five-star scale, with the highest performing five-star schools showing the most academic growth and proficiency. (High school rankings are expected to be released next month.)
Below are 10 of the Sun's main findings after looking at school rankings and median home prices across the Las Vegas Valley.
Disclaimer: School attendance zones don't match up with ZIP codes. The Sun used ZIP codes because there are no data for median home prices for attendance zones. Students also have a form of school choice with open enrollment programs, magnet and charter school options – but most Las Vegas children attend their neighborhood schools.
If you buy a house in the most affluent neighborhoods in the valley – the top quarter of ZIP codes where the median home price exceeds $132,250 – you’ll have nearly eight times the odds of having a four- or five-star school in your area than the poorest neighborhoods in the valley – the bottom quarter of ZIP codes with median home values under $68,106.
If you’re among the half million Las Vegans living in a ZIP code where the median home price exceeds $128,000, you are guaranteed to have at least a three star or higher elementary or middle school in your neighborhood.
While there are a few four- and five-star schools located in poorer neighborhoods – schools such as Hewetson Elementary – the county’s highest performing schools are less prevalent in these areas than in more affluent neighborhoods.
The median home price for the entire Las Vegas Valley is $107,000. That means half of the homes in Las Vegas cost more than that, the other half less.
Of the 170 elementary and middle schools located in ZIP codes where the median home price is less than the Valley median, just 18 percent are four- or five-star schools.
In contrast, there are 108 elementary and middle schools located in ZIP codes where the median home value exceeds $107,000. Nearly half – 46 percent – of those schools are four- and five-star schools.
Two neighborhoods – in Henderson and Spring Valley – each have three five-star schools, the most of any areas in the Las Vegas Valley.
Henderson ZIP code 89012 has five-star elementary schools Lamping, Twitchell and Vanderberg. The median home price in this neighborhood is $160,000.
Southwest Valley ZIP code 89147 has five-star elementary schools Bendorf, Hayes and Roger Bryan. The median home price in this neighborhood is $115,000.
ZIP code 89104, located in the eastern Valley, has three one-star schools, the most of any area in the Las Vegas Valley. Those one-star schools are Innovations Charter elementary and middle schools, and Fremont Middle School. The median home price in this ZIP code is $59,000.
There are 217 elementary schools and 59 middle schools in the School District's school ranking system.
The rankings for Clark County elementary schools are distributed fairly evenly, with one-third of schools being four- or five-star schools, one-third of schools being three-star schools, and the last third being one- or two-star schools.
On the other hand, the rankings for Clark County's middle schools are skewed lower. Nearly 90 percent of Clark County middle schools are three-star or lower. There are only seven four-star middle schools and zero five-star middle schools.
The majority of the School District’s top five-star schools are located in the wealthier, outer suburbs of the Las Vegas in neighborhoods such as Summerlin and Green Valley. Fewer five-star schools are located in the older, urban core of the Valley.
The average school ranking for schools in Summerlin is 4.4. The average school ranking for schools in Green Valley is 3.8.
There is a significant positive correlation between median home price and the number of stars a school has, according to UNLV sociology professor Shannon Monnat, who did a statistical analysis of the School District's school ranking data and median home price for the Sun. This means that as the median home price increases, so does a school's ranking.
The correlation is "statistically significant," Monnat added. That means that there is a high level of confidence that this relationship between median home price and school rankings is repeatable and accurate.
In a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors last year, 75 percent of respondents said the quality of public schools in one's neighborhood was very or somewhat important when considering the community they wanted to live in.