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Whether you are a parent or future parent looking to buy a home in Santa Cruz or an investor searching for an investment property, its important to understand the quality of schools in the area you intend to buy.

In this article, I will summarize important information about public and private education in Santa Cruz as well as resources that you can use to analyze individual schools.


Santa Cruz County Public Education: 


According to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, close to 40,500 students are enrolled in Santa Cruz County schools. Overall, the number of students in Santa Cruz County that are performing at an adequate level in the English Language Arts is 40-50%. In math, that number is 34% (measure using grade-dependent standards set by the state). Currently, 54.5% of students graduating from high schools in Santa Cruz County meet the requirements to attend a UC/CSU, which is higher than the state average of 45.5%.

We have 10 School Districts in Santa Cruz County. The table below shows enrollment per district per year:



To determine the district of a given property:

  • Visit
  • Choose the city, type in your house number, and the first few letters of the street name
  • Press tab and choose the correct street
  • You will see a list of information about your property, including the assigned school district.

For some schools, you can visit the district’s website to find your assigned schools. In other cases, you will need to call the district directly. Click Here for a list of important contacts in each school district in Santa Cruz County.

Once you’ve identified your school, you will want to know it’s quality and state ranking. In the past, each school was measured using the The Academic Performance Index (API). On March 15, 2017, the State Board of Education (SBE) and the California Department of Education (CDE) launched a new accountability system to replace the Academic Performance Index (API) to better measure our State’s educational goals. The metrics used to rate schools can now be found on the  California Dashboard and the  Five-by-Five Placement Reports. Use these tools to analyze the areas in which students within your assigned school are performing well and where they are in need of additional support.

In addition, you can read your district’s annual Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to gain an understanding of the district’s overall vision for students, annual goals and specific actions the district will take to achieve the vision and goals. You can find your district’s plan here.

Independent websites such as use algorithms and public data to come up with a number-rating for schools on a scale of 1-10. While this rating-system appears to be less complex, these websites do not provide a comprehensive look at a given school’s strengths and weaknesses.


Charter Schools

Charter schools are nonsectarian public schools of choice and are accountable to their sponsors. They are not restricted by many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools and are granted the right to operate for 3-5 years, after which they may renew. In Santa Cruz, close to 5,500 students were enrolled in charter schools in the 2015-16 school year.

There are some excellent charter schools in Santa Cruz (one of the best schools in the County is Pacific Collegiate Charter School). Admission to these schools is subject to chance, with most students being admitted through a lottery. However, certain factors can make admission more likely for a student. For example, at Pacific Collegiate Charter school, if a student has a sibling or working parent at the school, is the first to attend college in his/her family, or has a parent that is or was once on the Board of Directors, he or she has a higher likelihood of admission.

Most charter schools have a unique curriculum. Some specialize in the arts and others provide home-school support via online learning and in-person enrichment programs. If you think your child would benefit from an education at a Charter School, call the school directly for more information.


Private Schools

There are 10 private high schools and 29 private elementary schools in Santa Cruz County. The average acceptance rate is 82% and 47% of the schools are religiously affiliated. On average, the student/teacher ratio is 10:1. The average tuition for private elementary and high schools is $8,794-$24,040.

You can learn more about these private schools and read parent and teacher reviews here. You can find a list of private school in Santa Cruz County here.




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