Charlotte, NC, often referred to as the “Queen City,” is the largest city in North Carolina and a hub for finance, technology, and entertainment. Charlotte is also renowned for its high-quality education system, boasting a wide variety of top-rated schools. The city has 181 public schools serving over 133,000 students and 76 private institutions serving nearly 12,000 students.
Parents often consider several factors when choosing the right school for their kids. Those include academic performance, faculty experience, overall culture, and available extracurricular activities. However, it’s essential to remember that the right school for each student may differ based on individual needs and preferences.
To assist with the school selection process, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of ten top-rated schools in Charlotte. We considered the four factors listed earlier, as well as parental reviews from GreatSchools.org, Nextdoor, and Google.
Keep reading to learn about the ten top-rated schools in Charlotte and what makes them stand out.
Best Elementary Schools
Irwin Academic Center
329 North Irwin Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28202
Irwin Academic Center is a public magnet school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district. The school serves students in grades K-5, with an enrollment of 379 students.
Irwin Academic Center has a diverse student body, including Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic students, and students belonging to two or more races. This diversity is an essential aspect of Irwin's culture, as it fosters a sense of community and inclusivity that is crucial to the student's growth and success. Underserved students in the school perform better than other students from low-income households in the state.
The school also boasts an impressive student-teacher ratio of 11:1. That's lower than the state average, allowing teachers to provide personalized attention to each student. Additionally, 97% of teachers have at least three years of experience, and 92% of full-time teachers are certified.
Irwin's commitment to academic excellence is reflected in its above-average standardized test scores. 91% of the students attain proficiency in math, 88% in reading, and 93% in science. The school receives an 8/10 overall rating from GreatSchools.org.
Parents are pleased with the school’s sense of community and the diversity among the student body. Irvin Academic Center is perfect for parents searching for an academically-rigorous school to challenge their child.
Palisades Park Elementary
15321 York Road, Charlotte, NC 28278
Nestled in the heart of Charlotte, NC, Palisades Park Elementary is a public school that consistently ranks among the best in the area. The school has a student population of 770 students across grades K-5. Greatschools.org gives the school an overall 8/10 rating.
Palisades Park Elementary also has a qualified teaching staff. 98% of teachers have at least three years of experience. Furthermore, 100% of full-time teachers are certified. The student-teacher ratio is 17:1. The school also employs a full-time nurse and a part-time psychologist.
Palisades Park Elementary students outperform state averages in math, reading, and science. 97% of students attained proficiency in math, 66% in reading, and 89% in science. Additionally, the school's focus on sciences, projects, and engineering helps to provide a well-rounded education that prepares students for future success.
Parents also highly praise Palisades Park Elementary. Many cite a sense of community, positivity, and focus on sciences and engineering as reasons why they love the school. Palisades Park’s excellent academic record and inclusiveness make it a top choice for parents moving to Charlotte.
Bradford Preparatory School
2502 Salome Church Rd, Charlotte, NC 28262
Bradford Preparatory School is a public charter school serving grades K-12, with an enrollment of 1,372 students. The school is committed to providing academic excellence, personal relationships, and inspiring a passion for creativity and learning in all students, as reflected in the institution’s mission statement. Bradford Preparatory receives an overall 8/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Based on standardized test scores, most students at Bradford Preparatory School perform at or above grade level. In math, 71% of students achieve proficiency, while 66% and 84% attain proficiency in reading and science, respectively.
Bradford Preparatory School has a diverse student body, with 55% of students being White, 26% being Black, and 7% Hispanic. The school has a student-teacher ratio of 15:1, slightly higher than the state average of 12:1. Although only 63% of full-time teachers are certified, the school has an experienced faculty, with 85% of teachers having at least three years of teaching experience.
The positive parent reviews reflect Bradford Preparatory's dedication to providing a nurturing and supportive environment. Parents praise the school for its social and emotional learning environment and the counselors and teachers who go above and beyond to support their children.
11540 Bain School Rd, Charlotte, NC 28227
Bain Elementary is a public school in Charlotte serving students in grades K-5. The school has a rich history dating back 120 years to the founding of Bain Academy by John Bain in the Town of Mint Hill, NC. Throughout its history, the school has remained committed to providing challenging educational opportunities to its students, resulting in strong academic achievements and meeting the standards established to promote the development of the whole child.
The school has been rated above average in standardized test scores by GreatSchools.org, with the report indicating that most students perform at or above grade level. Bain Elementary receives an overall rating of 9/10.
Bain Elementary students excelled in reading, math, and science. In reading, 78% of students have attained proficiency, while 89% and 90% demonstrated proficiency in math and science, respectively.
The school has a population of 940 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 14:1. The faculty at Bain Elementary is highly experienced, with 97% of teachers having at least three years of experience and 83% of full-time teachers being certified. The school also has a full-time nurse and part-time psychologist.
Parents of Bain Elementary students have shared positive feedback about their experience, noting the school's caring teachers and staff are open to meaningful engagements and creative teaching methods. Bain is an excellent choice for parents in Charlotte seeking academic excellence for their kids in elementary school.
Best Middle Schools
Piedmont Open Middle School
1241 East 10th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
Piedmont Open Middle School is a public school in uptown Charlotte that offers an innovative and intellectually challenging academic environment to students in grades 6-8. The school has an enrollment of 1,088 students and receives a high rating of 9/10 from GreatSchools.org.
Piedmont Open Middle School students perform far above the state average on standardized tests, with reading, math, and science proficiency rates of 83%, 86%, and 95%, respectively. The school also has a strong cultural and performing arts program that parents like.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1, which is higher than the state average of 12:1. However, 97% of the teachers have at least three years of experience, and 96% are certified. Additionally, Piedmont Open Middle School has a full-time nurse, a full-time law enforcement officer, and a part-time psychologist.
A parent review describes the school as having friendly, communicative, and helpful staff invested in their students' success. The school also has a required volunteer component that encourages parental involvement in education.
Overall, Piedmont Open Middle School is an excellent choice for parents looking for an academically challenging and supportive middle school for their children in Charlotte.
Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy
5225 77 Center Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217
Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy is a public charter school that educates students from kindergarten to 8th grade. With only 376 students, this school provides a small and personalized learning environment for its students.
While currently unrated on GreatSchools.org, the school boasts impressive standardized test scores, with 94% of students attaining proficiency in reading, 95% in math, and 95% in science, far above the state average.
Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy's curriculum offers a variety of courses and programs to its students, including art courses such as ceramics, design, drawing/sketching, painting, and textiles. The school also offers music courses like band and choir/chorus, performance arts courses such as drama, and world language courses like Chinese-Cantonese and Spanish.
With a student-teacher ratio of 10:1, this school provides its students with a highly personalized learning experience. Additionally, 83% of teachers have at least three years of experience, and 92% of full-time teachers are certified.
According to a parent review, the teachers and administrators at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy are dedicated and do an excellent job of educating and fostering emotional growth for the challenging and underserved population of gifted children.
Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy offers a highly personalized and challenging learning environment for highly gifted students. It is an excellent choice for parents seeking a school to support their child's unique intellectual and social-emotional needs.
Jay M. Robinson Middle School
5925 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28277
Jay M. Robinson Middle School is a public school that caters to students in grades 6-8. The school has been operating since 2002 and has an enrollment of 1,225 students. The school has a 10/10 rating on GreatSchools.org. Its test scores are far above the state average, with 86% of students attaining proficiency in reading, 91% in math, and 95% in science.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, slightly higher than the state average of 12:1. However, the school has highly experienced and certified teachers, with 97% of teachers having at least three years of experience and 89% of full-time teachers being certified. In addition, the school has a full-time nurse, a law enforcement officer, and a part-time psychologist.
The school has also received positive feedback from parents, with one review stating that it is “without a doubt, the best middle school not only in South Charlotte, but Charlotte as a whole.”
Jay M Robinson Middle School is a high-performing school that offers a variety of courses and programs to its students. The school's experienced teachers, supportive environment, and excellent academic outcomes make it a great choice for families in the Charlotte area.
Best High Schools
Providence High School
1800 Pineville-Matthews Road, Charlotte, NC 28270
Providence High School is undoubtedly one of the best schools in Charlotte, serving 1,952 students across grades 9-12. The school's focus on college and career readiness is evident in its excellent standardized test scores, SAT participation rate, and average SAT score, which are far above the state average.
The SAT participation rate is 75%, with an average score of 1234. Providence High earns an impressive 9/10 score from GreatSchools.org.
Furthermore, the school offers a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses that allow students to earn college credits while still in high school. With 29 AP courses, students can challenge themselves academically and prepare for college-level coursework.
Providence High School has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1, higher than the state average of 12:1. However, the school has a highly experienced faculty, with 53% of certified staff having a master's degree or higher. Additionally, 68% of teachers have over ten years of experience.
Providence High School also offers a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, music programs, and clubs. Students can participate in various sports, such as soccer, basketball, and swimming, and join music programs, such as the school's award-winning marching band.
Providence High is an excellent option for parents searching for a conducive and supportive learning environment for their children.
Kevin Shackelford – Former professional pitcher
Austin Proehl – Wide receiver for the St. Louis Battlehawks in the XFL
Ty Buttrey – Professional pitcher who is currently a free agent
Brian Edwards – Former professional goalkeeper
Jessica Stroup – Actress and model
Jilen Siroky – Professional swimmer who competed at the 1996 Olympics
Ashley Fliehr – Professional wrestler and multi-time WWE Women's Champion
Antawn Jamison – Former professional basketball player who played 16 seasons in the NBA; 2-time All-Star
Mark Freiburger – Filmmaker
Cato Middle College High School
8120 Grier Road, Charlotte, NC 28215
Cato Middle College High School is a highly-rated public school that offers students a challenging yet enriching academic experience in grades 11 to 13. With only 238 students, the school provides a personalized and supportive learning environment that prepares students for high school graduation and college success.
Cato Middle College High School has a graduation rate of 99%, indicating that nearly all students who attend the school graduate on time and are well-prepared for post-secondary education.
The school's standardized test scores are above average, with an SAT average score of 1142. Cato Middle College High School earns a 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org. Cato Middle College High School also allows students to participate in college-level coursework and earn college credit through numerous AP classes while still in high school.
The school is ideal for families in Charlotte searching for a unique and enriching learning environment for their children.
Ardrey Kell High School
10220 Ardrey Kell Road, Charlotte, NC 28277
Ardrey Kell High School is a top-rated public high school in Charlotte that opened its doors in 2006. The institution is well-known for its high-quality education, diverse student population, and a strong sense of community. With an enrollment of over 3,500 students across grades 9-12, Ardrey Kell has a student-teacher ratio of approximately 22:1.
The school boasts impressive standardized test scores, with 76% of students attaining Mathematics Proficiency, 87% Reading Proficiency, and 91% Science Proficiency. In addition, the school has a 98% graduation rate, which is well above the state average. The school receives an impressive 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
One of the standout features of Ardrey Kell High School is its Advanced Placement program, which offers 26 AP courses to students. This allows students to take college-level classes and earn college credits while still in high school.
Ardrey Kell also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs, and community service opportunities, which allow students to explore their interests and develop leadership skills. The school also has a robust athletic program, with teams consistently competing at the state level in various sports.
The school’s high academic standards and sense of diversity and inclusivity make it an excellent option for families moving to Charlotte.
Jack Reinheimer – Shortstop for the Kansas City Royals
Julian Okwara – Defensive end for the Detroit Lions
Prince Shember – Former linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons
Tucker Lepley – Professional soccer player for the UCLA Bruins
Tessa Blanchard – Professional wrestler and actress
Trent Thornton – Pitcher for the Seattle Mariners
Romeo Okwara – Defensive end for the Detroit Lions
Andrew Pannenberg – Goalkeeper for the Houston Dynamo 2
Finding The Right School In Charlotte
Charlotte is home to some of the best-rated schools in North Carolina. They offer students an excellent education, well-rounded extracurricular activities, and a supportive community. The schools on this list have consistently shown high performance on standardized tests, impressive graduation rates, and positive feedback from parents and students alike. If you're looking for a top-rated school for your child in Charlotte, this list of ten is an excellent starting point for your search.
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