Schools in Lafayette vs. Walnut Creek
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Schools in Lafayette vs. Walnut Creek
I'm interested in hearing people's experiences with Walnut
Creek and Lafayette elementary schools. We currently live
in Walnut Creek (in the Murwood elementary school area) but
are considering moving to Lafayette, partly because of the
good things we've heard about the schools. I'd love for my
son to learn a second language from early on and have good
music education--are the public schools out here strong in
those areas? And what about the culture of the schools--are
they respectful, warm, and inclusive or more toward the
cliquish and mean end of the spectrum? Do the kids come
to love learning? Some of the schools
described in the private schools newsletters sound so
fabulous; I'm wondering how the supposedly high quality
public schools in this area compare. Thanks in advance for
any info you can share.
Both my kids go/have gone to Buena Vista Elementary in
Walnut Creek. It's great. While it's more traditional than
some local private schools, I really love it and so do my
kids. While Lafayette public schools may be ''better'' than
Walnut Creek public school, I think what you're talking
about is that they have higher test scores, which in my
opinion is due to richer parents, not better schools.
Walnut Creek is somewhat more diverse than Lafayette.
Buena Vista has the most class diversity of the WCSD, but
I think Murwood just passed us up in the % of English
language learners, which of course adds cultural diversity.
All the WCSD schools have fabulous parent involvement and
raise money for art, music, and PE in the schools through
an ed foundation (as do Lafayette schools). I think they
all promote respectful and inclusive behavior pretty
successfully in elementary, but my (biased and rumor-
based) opinion is that in high school, Walnut Creek is
probably less exclusive.
Unfortunately, in the Walnut Creek elementary schools a
second language is only available as an after-school class.
My husband and I and our young son are planning to move to the east side
of the Caldecott.
We've seen houses we like in both Lafayette and Walnut Creek. I've heard
lots of good things about Lafayette public schools, but not much about
Walnut Creek schools. If anyone can provide some information, I'd be
very grateful. (The houses we've liked in Walnut Creek have been in
the Parkmead school area.) Kathleen
1. Test Scores You can find STAR test score results by visiting
www.greatschools.com or www.cde.gov (The California Dept. of Education).
Although, test scores aren't everything, I think that they are useful general
indicators of a school's performance. Some would argue otherwise. The
San Francisco Chronicle also did a nice write up of all the Bay Area Star
Results on Friday, July 30, 1999, in a special section.
The STAR Test Score Results for Parkmead Elementary 98/99 are
Reading Math Lang. Spelling
78/76 77/77 75/74 64/70
Not as great as Lafayette, but pretty good relative to the bay area.
2. District Information I recommend that you contact the Walnut Creek School
district. WUSD publishes a free WUSD Report to the Community that provides
test scores and School Accountability Reports (SARs) - this is information
that all public schools are supposed to make available to the public. When
buying a house you'll want to contact the school district to make sure the
house you're buying feeds into the school you think it does. If you give
them the address they will tell you over the phone. Also you need to be
careful in Walnut Creek because the boundaries are very fuzzy. Some homes
feed into WUSD, some Mt. Diablo School district, some Alamo. With rising
housing prices, this is not something to overlook.
3. The School Of course you might also want to go to the school -- talk to
the principal and staff. This might give you a feeling about the schools.
You might ask to take a tour or observe a class, but they'll probably say
"no" because it's too disruptive. When you visit, you might be surprised at
the age and dilapidated look of some of the Walnut Creek schools. It might
not be what you expected.
Check out www.greatschools.com
All of the elementary schools in Lafayette are rated highly in terms of
standardized scores on tests (I don't recall the name of the test)-
students perform above the 95th percentile if I recall. We looked into
school comparisons when we were looking at homes out here and at that time
there was a web site that allowed you to look up individual schools...there
are also hardcopy booklets from all of the school districts which you can
ask for. I remember that Indian Valley School and the elementary school
associated with the Northgate area of WC were also rated exceptionally high.
To compare schools, one thing you can do is go to the State's Dept of
Education's website which posts all the STAR scores. You can read all about the
tests and also look up schools by either school district or zip code. From the
research I did a few years ago, Lafayette schools did better on these tests.
Note that parts of WC fall into the same school district as lafayette. These
maybe worth checking out too. Good luck. The site I metioned above is
My son is in 3rd grade at Buena Vista and we're very happy with it. I know
Parkmead is well thought of and houses the district alternative school, PALS,
which sounds pretty great if you're looking for a more progressive, child-centered
approach. All the WC schools are California Distinguished Schools. I don't know
anything about Lafayette schools except that they have more $/pupil than Walnut
Creek and they raise more money from parents as well. So you'll probably find
more so-called extras. On the other hand, they're less diverse. One caution:
several schools in the city of Walnut Creek are NOT in the Walnut Creek
school district: they're in Mt.Diablo district. Deborah
this page was last updated: Feb 10, 2004
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