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The 10 Best Schools in Virginia Today

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The 10 Best Schools in Virginia Today

Having served as home to the first English settlement in the New World, Virginia boasts a rich history and has made innumerable contributions to America’s political, cultural, and culinary traditions. Notably, the state is home to the first free public school in America, the Syms-Eaton Academy. 

Currently, Virginia has 2,126 public schools, 8 public charter schools, and 4,313 private schools serving K-12 students. Identifying a “good” school from the bunch can be challenging, with the definition differing from one person to the next. The ideal school should meet your child’s unique needs, interests, and abilities. 

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the ten best schools in Virginia today. We ranked the schools based on their academic achievements, faculty experience, class sizes, parent reviews, greatschools.org test scores, and many more factors. 

Keep reading to learn about our choices for the ten top-rated schools in the state, ranked in ascending order within each category. 

Best Elementary Schools

Three Oaks Elementary School

2201 Elson Green Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Three Oaks Elementary School is a top-rated elementary school within the Virginia Beach City Public Schools District. Opened in 2005, the school can accommodate 1,000 students but currently serves roughly 756 students in pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. 

The school has set a goal to provide a safe and nurturing environment where all kids can explore their talents and reach their potential. The young scholars’ performance on standardized tests reflects this commitment to excellence. 91% attain proficiency in English reading and math, while 85% attain proficiency in science. 

Three Oaks Elementary also runs a gifted program for academically talented kids. The Emergency Scholars Initiative identifies culturally, linguistically, economically, and diverse (CLED) students, providing them with challenging subject matter and rigorous programs to nurture their potential. 

The school has relatively larger classes, compared to other schools in the state, with a teacher for every seventeen students. Nonetheless, the school maintains a highly qualified faculty. 98% of the teachers have over three years of experience, and all full-time instructors are certified. 

The school also has a nurse, clinical assistant, and security guard within its support staff. Parents at Three Oaks Elementary speak highly of the school, citing the wonderful and caring teachers among the top reasons they recommend it. 

Union Primary School

2945 2nd Avenue East, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

Union Primary School colloquially identifies as the “Home of The Bear Cubs” and is a public elementary school serving pre-kindergarten to fourth-grade students in Big Stone Gap, VA. The school is part of the Wise County Public Schools and serves the Appalachia and Big Stone Gap communities. 

The school prides itself in having a highly experienced faculty team, credited for Union Primary’s success. The staff has an average of 16 years of teaching experience, with a third of the faculty having more than 20. Additionally, 31% of the professional staff hold a master’s degree in education. 

According to greatschools.org, most students perform at or above their grade level in standardized tests. 86% attain proficiency in math and 81% in English. The school also offers a gifted program for academically talented kids. Greatschools.org gave Union Primary an impressive 10/10 overall rating. 

Parents rate the school highly, with Union Primary receiving 5/5 stars. Here’s what one parent had to say about the school: ”We moved here two years ago and love our POWELL VALLEY Primary!! Awesome staff, teachers and amazing admin!! I would recommend this school to any family.”

A young girl runs on a lacrosse field. She is carrying her lacrosse stick. The photo captures her in mid air.
School isn't just about studying, but also about taking time to have fun and enjoy the outdoors.


North Landing Elementary School

2929 North Landing Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

North Landing Elementary is a highly-rated public school within the Virginia Beach City Public Schools district. The school serves a blended community of rural and urban neighborhoods such as Victoria Park, Indian River Plantation, CourtHouse Estates, and CourtHouse Woods. It has a student population of roughly 447 in grades PK-5. 

Students at North Landing Elementary consistently perform above the state standards in all areas tested through the Virginia Standards of Learning Tests. Results verified by greatschools.org show that 95% of students attain proficiency in English, 94% in science, and 93% in math. 

The school’s incredible academic performance can be attributed to its highly qualified staff. All teachers at the school have over three years of experience and are certified. North Landing Elementary also maintains relatively small class sizes, with one teacher for every fifteen students. 

Parents at the school highly regard the administration and staff at school, terming them as being kind, approachable, and dedicated to the success of all students. The parent also mentions the amazing community around the school as another reason they highly recommend it. 

Union Hall Elementary School

100 Chatham Hall Circle, Chatham, VA 24531

Union Hall Elementary School is a top-performing elementary school in Chatham that has received numerous national and state awards for its academic achievements. The school serves roughly 230 students in PK-5. It is part of the Pittsylvania County Public Schools District. 

The U.S. Department of Education recognized the school as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2017. Union Hall Elementary has also received the State Board of Education’s Competence to Excellence award three times. 

Students consistently excel in state-administered exams, with a remarkable 96% of students reaching proficiency in science, 94% in math, and an impressive 93% attaining competency in English. Greatschools.org has given the institution an overall rating of 10/10 – underscoring the excellent quality of education they provide.

The school enjoys relatively smaller classes compared to other schools in the state. There’s one teacher for every twelve students at the school. Additionally, all teachers at the school are certified, and 95% have three or more years of teaching experience. Union Hall Elementary also has a full-time nurse on staff. 

Best Middle Schools

Old Donation School

4633 Honeygrove Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Old Donation School is a magnet public middle school in Virginia Beach under the Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS). The school serves roughly 1,255 gifted students in grades 2-8. Admission to the school is application-based and requires scholars to meet the criteria set by the VBCPS for the gifted education program. 

The school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2022, a testament to the rigorous academic environment at Old Donation. Students’ performance on standardized tests is exemplary, with nearly all attaining proficiency in English reading, math, science, earth science, geometry, and algebra Ⅰ. 

Despite the high student population, the school maintains relatively small classes, with one teacher for every thirteen students. Old Donation School has a full-time security guard and law enforcement officer that keep the staff and kids secure. It also has a full-time nurse that attends to the health needs of the students. 

Current and former students speak highly of the school, with most recommending it. One former student hails the teachers and administration, terming them great and competent. Old Donation School is an excellent pick for families searching for an academically-rigorous environment for their gifted kids. 

Williamsburg Middle School

3600 North Harrison Street, Arlington, VA 22207

Williamsburg Middle is a public school in Arlington, VA, part of the Arlington County Public Schools. The school houses approximately 1,379 students in sixth to eighth grade. Greatschools.org gave the school a 9/10 overall rating. 

The school offers the enriched PLTW Gateway curriculum tailored for STEM middle school programs. Students at Williamsburg Middle perform exceedingly well on standardized test scores, with 98% gaining proficiency in algebra Ⅰ, 95% in English reading, 92% in science, and 91% in math. 

The school provides students with numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities. Your child may join one of the twenty-five clubs and organizations at the school. Williamsburg Middle also encourages its students to express and share their interests by opening their own clubs. 

The kids also participate in athletic programs that nurture their talents and interests. Your child may choose to join one of the 12 sports teams at the school. Parents at the school cite an excellent experience, with one noting that their child is doing well in academics and extracurricular activities. 

Getting an up-close look at things you've never seen before is one of the best parts about science class.

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Cooper Middle School

977 Balls Hill Road, McLean, VA 22101

Cooper Middle is a top-rated public school serving students in McLean within grades seven and eight. The school opened in 1962 under the Fairfax County Public Schools District. The student population at the school is approximately 1,032, with greatschools.org giving it a 10/10 overall rating. 

Cooper Middle students perform amazingly well on standardized tests administered by the state. From records reviewed by greatschools.org, 93% attained proficiency in English, 87% in science, and 75% in math. 

Classes are relatively large at the school, compared to others in the state, with one teacher for every seventeen students. Luckily, the faculty at the school is experienced and qualified. 76% have more than three years of teaching experience, and all full-time teachers are certified. 

Cooper Middle offers numerous afterschool activities to challenge and nurture kids’ interests. The students can join clubs such as D&D, Math Counts, Quiz Bowl, and Rubix cube, among many more. The school also offers several athletic programs, including basketball, soccer, and futsal. 

Parents at the school provide an optimistic view of the school, speaking highly of the rigorous academic environment that challenges the kids to push their abilities. One also noted that the teachers are kind and sympathetic. 

Best High Schools

Thomas Jefferson High for Science and Technology

6560 Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22312

Thomas Jefferson High for Science and Technology (TJHSST) is a state-chartered magnet school in Alexandria within the Fairfax County Public Schools District. It serves approximately 1,781 students in grades 9-12. The school has earned numerous accolades since its inception in 1985, most recently a 2020 Journalism Education Association First Amendment Press Freedom Award. 

The school offers a comprehensive STEM curriculum, with students having to complete a technology lab project before graduating. The students can participate in the 27 advanced placement courses available at TJHSST, with 72% enrolling. The AP programs allow students to gain college credits while in high school.

Additionally, the students can choose from three art courses, three music courses, six world language courses, and a performance art course. TJHSST boasts a 100% graduation rate, with 92% proceeding to college or vocational training. 

The school has over 60 clubs and organizations and 28 athletic teams, providing students with numerous opportunities to find their voice and interest in extracurricular activities they love. 

Parent reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with one ravishing about the tough academics but fair grading that characterizes the school. TJHSST is an excellent choice for families searching for a rigorous STEM curriculum for their kids. 

Notable Alumni

Stephanie Hannon – Chief Treasury Officer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

Chris Avellone – Game designer known for his work on popular role-playing video games

Ian Caldwell – Author

Anne Toth – Head of Data Policy at the World Economic Forum

Staci Wilson – Soccer player and Olympic champion

Ashley Miller – Screenwriter

Mike Elias – Executive vice president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles

Andrew Kirmse – Game designer who created the first 3-D MMO

Dustin Thomason – Author

Ehren Kruger – Screenwriter

Richmond Community High School

201 East Brookland Park Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23222

Richmond Community High is a top-rated alternative high school in Richmond. It is part of the Richmond City Public Schools District. The school serves roughly 250 students in ninth to twelfth grade. Greatschools.org gives the school a 10/10 rating. 

The school has a focus on academically talented students from less privileged backgrounds. Over 60% of the student body comprises those with low socioeconomic status. This exemplary institution boasts an incredible 100% graduation rate, and of those graduates, 92% have pursued college or vocational training courses. Truly impressive!

The Carnegie Institute has identified Richmond Community High among the top 200 high schools in the nation that promote excellence in education. 94% of the students opt to participate in the 14 advanced placement programs offered at the school, allowing them to earn college credits. 

The students can also enroll in special programs such as painting, band, choir, Spanish, and French. Richmond Community High also has 18 clubs that allow scholars to participate in activities that build them into well-rounded individuals. 

Former students and parents rave about the school, with one former student saying that the environment at the school is fantastic. One parent says the challenge provided by the teachers leads to a complete graduate ready for college. 

Open High School

600 South Pine Street, Richmond, VA 23220

Open High School in Richmond is a highly respected institution renowned for its college preparatory programs. Established in 1972, the school provides quality education to around 200 students between grades 9 and 12. Open High School has been praised multiple times; it was even awarded the coveted Blue Ribbon status in 2008. A perfect 10/10 score from greatschools.org, further cements its status as one of the premier educational institutions in the region. 

The school enjoys a 4-year high school graduation rate of 100%. 87% of the graduates proceed to a college or vocational training program. All classes in Open High School are geared towards an AP program or dual enrollment programs, which allow students to earn college credits while still in high school. 

81% of the students participate in the 19 advanced placement programs offered at the school, while 2% join dual enrollment classes. The school takes pride in providing a personalized setting for each child, with one teacher for every eleven students.

Former and current students speak highly of the school, with one student noting that they grew into lifelong learners and thinkers courtesy of the independence and quality of education they received. The school is an excellent choice for parents searching for a rigorous college preparatory environment for their kids in Richmond. 

Notable Alumni

Noah Scalin – Contemporary artist who runs an award-winning art blog

Anne Holton – Former Secretary of Education for Virginia

Aimee Mann – Singer and songwriter in the rock genre

Achievement unlocked. These smiling graduates are ready to take on the world after celebrating their big day.


Finding the Right School for Your Child

Virginia boasts of a robust education scene, with numerous top-rated schools that provide an assorted range of pedagogies and curricula. Your child may access elementary schools with traditional instruction curricula, high-performing magnet schools with multiple gifted programs, or alternative high schools with rigorous college preparatory programs.

The schools on this list can provide an excellent baseline as you search for the ideal school for your kid.

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