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You know the old 80’s throwback that the three most important things in real estate are LOCATION, LOCATION and LOCATION? Well if you’re house hunting as a parent or are planning to have children in the near future, don’t forget to add school districts to the top of your list as well!

Finding the Best School Districts in Toronto | Christine Cowern Team

We know, finding an area that meets all of your criteria is already hard enough without having to add schools to the list. So why is shopping schools and find the best school districts so important? 

Let’s use some high demand areas as a prime example. Liberty Village and the Fashion District are perfect hubs if you want to be within stumbling distance of transit, great restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping. But for a family, how do the schools line up in these highly desirable, trendy hoods? Not so well. 

The downtown core has less schools, and the schools that do exist tend to have much lower ratings. For example, there really are only two schools in the Liberty Village area, St. Mary’s and Niagara. To make matters worse, both are ranked just above 5 out of 10 — not the ranking you want for your kid’s education.

In general, the schools with the best rankings tend to be located north of Bloor according to a study by Toronto Life magazine. However, this provides yet another challenge for families – which is the price. These areas tend to be on the higher end meaning your budget might make it difficult to live in these best school districts.

So how do you begin shopping the best school districts in Toronto without sacrificing too much of the other desirables on your checklist?  If you’re just beginning your home search, you can look for the top-ranking schools to help find neighbourhoods that might be of interest to you. If you already have a preferred area, you can look for schools in the neighbourhood and search them on ranking sites to see how they measure up. You can also find alternative areas you might not have considered based on the best school districts and check them to find the areas that correspond with your budget. 

We found these four great tools to assist in your school search and what to look for when choosing a school, so you’ll know which areas you can afford while getting the best education for your kids: 

1. CompareSchoolRankings.org

This is an easy to use search engine that allows you to search by location or choose a specific school to see how it ranks. Instead of looking at the school district in general, you can consider areas you wish to live, look at the schools in the area and search and compare them so you get an idea of how well they rank compared to other schools.

Prepared by Fraser Institute, detailed reports on how each school is doing in academics allows you to compare schools as well as see if schools are improving, declining, or just staying steady over the past five years.

2. EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office)

The EQAO site is an excellent resource as it allows you to see the most recent results for how students performed at any school in Ontario. EQAO Testing is performed every year for students in Grade 3, 6 and 9 as well as a Grade 10 Literacy test. 

EQAO results allow schools and school boards to see how students perform not only from an educational level, but also include contextual, attitudinal and behavioural information. This, in turn, allows schools and boards to address key areas they can improve upon for school programming and classroom instruction. 

This testing also helps keep the public education system accountable to taxpayers. You can get an idea of what levels students are performing in areas you would like to live, and again, can compare results with other schools to see what you can expect. It’s more a reflection of the teaching, then any of the other rankings you might want to explore, and obviously, that’s always important!

The main purpose of the tests is to help schools see where they need improvement, while also providing the province with much-needed information to help identify schools that’re in need of assistance. Parents can also become powerful advocates for school improvement if they see their child’s school isn’t performing as well as other schools in their area. That means the EQAO site offers the inside scoop for an objective view of how the school is actually performing.

If your children are older, you can use the results to make important decisions when it comes to high schools. Schools with higher academic achievements can be chosen for students who wish to achieve the grades required to gain acceptance into leading universities.

3. Scholarhood.ca

Come on, with a name like Scholarhood you know this info’s gotta be good! You land on the home page and bam you know right away not only what the best school in Toronto is, but how much it costs to buy a home in that school district. You’ve got the ranking from Fraser Institute and EQAO as well as the average home price. You’ll see how the price of a home is directly reflected in the schools in the area, something DINKS and singles might find a tad annoying!

4. OurKids.net

This is a site dedicated to private schools in and around Toronto. If this is something you’re considering, this is the place to start. You’ll get not only rankings for traditional private schools, but also Montessori schools. They also provide all kinds of tips on the things you need to know about choosing a private school, the locations, grade levels and tuition fees. And speaking of tuition, don’t feel these schools are only available to higher income families. Most private schools do offer financing options, so you can always give them a call to investigate further if this is something you think might be worth pursuing. 

Keep in mind that private schools tend to be located in the best school districts, which are also prestigious areas and potentially out of reach for your budget. That means you’ve gotta decide how far you’re willing to drive to get your kid to school every morning!

Although school rankings are the perfect jumping off point, we can’t stress enough how important it is to visit the schools and get a feel for the community and understand some of these best school districts. You should also try to speak to parents with kids in the schools you are considering and get the insider’s perspective about the teachers, students and overall atmosphere your kids will experience. 

We can help you find your dream home in the best neighbourhoods to raise a family! If you’re starting your house hunt and would like some honest advice from our team of kick-ass real estate experts, give us a call at #416-291-7372 or email us at hello@christinecowern.com. We’d love to help.