Austin has been called the live music capital of the world and the “city of eternal boom” (Texas Monthly), and it continues to top lists of fastest growing and best cities in the United States. Austin’s population grows year after year, boosting property values. People are attracted to the music scene, the weather, the focus on health and the outdoors, the growing tech sector, and more. But what about the schools? Austin is considered a bright spot for education in Texas, but not every district and school is equal.
If you’re moving to a new house in Austin or looking to build here with kids, here’s what you need to know about Austin-area schools:
There are two public school districts in Austin.
Eanes ISD is relatively small, with just over 8,000 students at six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Eanes is located on the west side of Austin in the Westlake area. In the 2015–2016 academic year, every school in Eanes ISD met the Texas Education Agency’s standards for accountability, and both ACT and SAT scores are consistently well above the state average. Moreover, 99 percent of seniors in the 2016 graduating class were accepted to college. This district is predominantly white and middle- and high-income. Most students speak English as a first language.
The much larger Austin ISD has more than 82,000 students and 130 schools. Schools serve a population spanning 230 square miles across Austin. Austin ISD boasts impressive results for both the number of students who take AP exams and for their passing rates; they outpaced peers in Texas and across the United States in 2016–2017. This district is just over 50 percent low-income, and 28 percent speak English as a second language. Austin ISD is an urban school district, with both the associated challenges and associated benefits. Additionally, Austin ISD boasts multiple magnet schools, including Kealing and Fulmore middle schools and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, or Lasa High School. The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders also falls in Austin ISD. For a full list of school choices, visit Austin ISD’s webpage.
Austin also boasts quite a few private and charter schools.
Charter schools are independently operating and set their own mission, principles, and performance measures. They can be more accountable, because their success depends on the happiness of the students and families they serve. However, charters do not have to follow government standards, which means that while they do not have the normal bureaucracy of a school, they also may not require teachers be certified.
Private schools are also independently operating (separate from a public school system). They operate on private funding through tuition, donations, a church affiliation, or a state voucher system. Class sizes tend to be smaller than in public schools, but as with charters, teachers in private schools are not always certified.
- Austin YouthWorks
- Wayside Schools
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
- Austin Waldorf School
Just outside of Austin, the following suburban school districts are highly ranked.
- Round Rock ISD (north of Austin)
- Dripping Springs ISD (southwest of Austin)
- Leander ISD (northwest of Austin)
- Pflugerville ISD (northeast of Austin)
You can find specific statistics on graduation rates, college readiness rates, demographics, income and more through the Texas Education Agency. Data is available for entire districts or for single schools.
The most important factor when deciding on a school for your kids is finding the best fit. Will your son or daughter be comfortable and happy? Will they get the most out of their classroom and recreational time? Be sure to visit the schools you are considering before making a decision.