Nashville is often colloquially referred to as the “Athens of the South.” While some people wrongfully attribute it to the iconic Parthenon building, the nickname originates from the city’s focus on higher education. Nashville saw the opening of nine institutions of higher learning between 1864 and 1912, cementing its place as a regional educational hub, just as Athens, Greece, was.
Today, with over 500 educational institutions for K-12 students in the city, deciding on an ideal school for your child can seem daunting. Education is far more than just exams and grades – ensure that you find one with qualified faculty members to nurture their development, offers intriguing curricula tailored towards your child's unique interests and learning needs, and exciting extracurricular activities.
We’ve compiled a list of the ten best schools in Nashville today that can ease your search. We took into account the factors listed above in addition to GreatSchools.org test scores, parental reviews, and overall student experience.
Here are the schools ranked in ascending order.
Best Elementary Schools
Julia Green Elementary School
3500 Hobbs Road, Nashville, TN 37215
Julia Green Elementary is a public, International Baccalaureate-approved school within the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools district. It serves approximately 446 students in grades K-4. The school aims to create a foundation that inspires tolerance, compassion, integrity, and commitment to learning.
Julia Green Elementary is one of the few International Baccalaureate schools within the district and runs the Primary Years Program. Its commitment to academic excellence is shown in the student’s performance in standardized test scores, with 85% gaining proficiency in science, 81% in math, and 79% in English. The school received an overall 8/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Besides the common core subjects, students can participate in a variety of art and language programs. All students take a Chinese class. The school offers a multitude of extracurricular activities, including the ukulele club, art club, and science club.
The school setting is characterized by intimate learning experiences with an average of fourteen students and one instructor. This allows instructors to bring their expertise, as 90% have three or more years of experience in the field, while all full-time teachers are certified professionals.
Parents are full of praise for the school, lauding the high parental involvement, excellent teachers, strong leadership, and supportive parents. Julia Green Elementary is an excellent choice for families living in Green Hills.
Harpeth Valley Elementary School
7840 Learning Lane, Nashville, TN 37221
Harpeth Valley Elementary School is a highly-rated public school under the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The state recognized the school as a Reward School in 2013/2014 and 2018/2019, indicating that it’s one of the top-performing schools in Tennessee. The school serves roughly 705 students in grades PK-4.
GreatSchools.org rated this school an impressive 8/10 for its enriched curriculum that goes beyond the standard state pedagogy, allowing 65% of students to gain proficiency in English and math and 64% in science.
The PTO runs a school garden, where the school hosts a garden club after classes. Additionally, your child may participate in other clubs, such as chess club, creative writing, Engineering for kids, and Girls on the Run. Harpeth Valley Elementary also provides Encore, the district’s program tailored for gifted kids.
The school has relatively smaller classes, with a teacher for every fifteen students. Parent reviews of Harpeth Valley Elementary are overwhelmingly positive, with one parent noting that the school’s staff helped identify their child’s speech impairment early enough. Another parent raves about how great the PTO is.
Glendale Elementary School
800 Thompson Avenue, Nashville, TN 37204
Glendale Elementary School is a top-performing Spanish immersion school serving elementary students in grades PK-4. Opened in 2004, Glendale was Nashville’s first Spanish Immersion elementary school. The School earned an overall rating of 8/10 from GreatSchools.org.
The school teaches math and science through Spanish, which is also integrated into daily conversation with staff. Glendale Elementary also has grade-level teams that promote the learning of the Spanish culture at the school.
At Glendale, students achieve their highest potential with impressive results on standard test scores – 82% proficiency in science, 78% proficiency in English, and 75% adept at math. In addition to academic excellence set as a foundation for success, there are countless opportunities for creative expression through art classes that explore music, drama, or storytelling.
Glendale offers a variety of PTO-sponsored clubs, including cooking club, yoga club, running club, and superhero club. Additionally, several groups meet after school for extracurricular activities. These include cub scouts, soccer clubs, and Daisies/Brownies.
Parents say they are proud of the school for providing a safe and inclusive environment for the kids, focusing on kindness and respect for other people’s cultures. Glendale Elementary is perfect for parents wishing to teach their kids a second language.
220 Venture Circle, Nashville, TN 37228
Purpose Prep ranks among the best-performing elementary schools in Nashville. It is a public charter school that serves pre-kindergarten to fourth-grade students. The school boasts of being the first elementary school in Northern Nashville to receive the Reward School status from the state for its academic achievements. GreatSchools.org awarded Purpose Prep an impressive 9/10 overall rating.
Students undertake an academically rigorous, engaging, and fast-paced curriculum with an intensive focus on essential literacy skills. The school attained a “Level 5” rating, the highest distinction from the district, for its achievement and growth in ELA(English Language Arts) and math.
The classes at the school are typically small, with an average student-teacher ratio of 11:1. This allows the instructors to provide personalized attention to the students. Purpose Prep has a qualified faculty, with 71% of full-time teachers certified and 84% having more than three years of teaching experience.
Parent reviews reveal a school with a rigorous academic program that meets each child’s unique needs. One parent expresses their happiness that their son is excelling in school work and is motivated about school. The school is an excellent choice for families searching for an intensive instructional curriculum for their kids.
Best Middle Schools
Valor Flagship Academy
4527 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211
Valor Flagship Academy is a public charter school in Davidson County with a unique approach to education. The school believes in holistic human development in learning and uses Compass, a human development model around which the school’s instruction is structured. The school receives a 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Valor Flagship serves approximately 734 students across grades five to nine. The school boasts of being ranked in the 98th percentile in Achievement of all schools in Tennessee. According to GreatSchools.org, 83% of scholars at the school attain proficiency scores in social studies, 59% in English, 62% in math, 71% in US history, and 72% in science.
Valor Flagship Academy indicates that it’s proud of creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community that will help students thrive in a diverse world. The diversity is reflected in its student population, where 61% are white, 18% Hispanic, 14% Black, and 6% Asian.
Students can participate in various sports, including basketball, cross-country, lacrosse, soccer, and volleyball. Your child may also have the opportunity to join the art club, drama club, Girls on the Run, or yoga club.
The school receives a 4.6/5 rating from parents on GreatSchools.org, with most praising the social-emotional component infused into the learning process. The school is an excellent choice for families searching for a different pedagogy outside the traditional curriculum.
Meigs Middle Magnet School
713 Ramsey Street, Nashville, TN 37206
Meigs Middle Magnet School is a public magnet school within the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools district. It has a student population of approximately 683 across grades 5-8. The school provides a rigorous liberal arts program, with GreatSchools.org giving it an overall 9/10 rating.
GreatSchools.org reports that 87-83-78 and 76 percent of their students have attained proficiency in English, math, social studies, and science, respectively, exceeding test scores from peers across the state. An additional bonus for scholars is the Encore program which offers a unique opportunity to cultivate their talent within a state-sponsored platform explicitly meant for gifted children.
Outside the classroom, the kids participate in various clubs and organizations, such as the student council, debate club, chess club, girls on the run, Battle of the Books, Cavaliers on Stage, and the media team. Additionally, Meigs Middle provides numerous sporting activities, including soccer, wrestling, track, and football.
With one teacher for every nineteen students, the school has well-equipped classes. Moreover, 89% of instructors boast a wealth of experience with over three years of teaching. All full-time faculty members are also certified professionals, and security is kept to the highest levels by their dedicated team, including an onsite guard and law enforcement officer.
Valor Voyager Academy
4527 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211
Valor Voyager Academy is the second public charter school under the Valor Colliagate Umbrella. The school also focuses on the holistic development of the child and records impressive academic achievements. GreatSchools.org gave Valor Voyager a perfect 10/10 rating.
The school boasts of being in the 96th percentile rank in the state for academic achievement. According to GreatSchools.org, 82% of students attain proficiency in social studies, 61% in math, 65% in science, and 54% in English.
Valor Voyager is proud of its diversity, enrolling students from different backgrounds. 53% of the student body is white, 26% Hispanic, 14% black, and 6% Asian. The school also notes that its scholars from lower social-economic backgrounds outdo their peers from the middle and upper income in Nashville.
The school’s classes are moderately large, with seventeen students for every teacher. However, all full-time faculty members are certified. Valor Voyager also has a part-time nurse and psychologist who attend to the student’s health and emotional needs.
Reviews on Niche.com are overwhelmingly positive, with a current student giving the school an overall student experience ranking of 5/5 stars. The student appreciated the school’s culture, terming it as “rich” and “worth it.”
Best High Schools
Nashville School Of The Arts
1250 Foster Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210
Nashville School of the Arts is a public magnet school under the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools district focused on art-interested scholars in grades 9-12. The school is a Tennessee reward school, which speaks of its academic performance beyond the arts.
Nashville School of the Arts has nine unique art conservatories which students audition for. These include dance, music-band, music-guitar, music-choral, music-piano, theater arts, music-strings, visual arts, and literary arts. The students then hone their craft within their conservatories in four years, bringing out their artistic excellence. The school enjoys a 93% graduation rate.
The school does an excellent job of preparing its students for college. 93% of its students undertake the ACT, with the school having an average score of 23. GreatSchools.org gave the ACT college readiness index a 47%. Additionally, 30% of the students participate in the nine advanced placement classes available at the school.
The school has relatively larger classes compared to other schools in the state, with an average student-teacher ratio of 20:1. Luckily, the school has a high percentage of experienced teachers, and nearly all full-time instructors are certified.
A former student at the school says that Nashville School of the Arts developed them into well-rounded individuals and provides a perfect blend of the arts and academics. The school is an excellent choice for talented art students.
Martin Luther King Junior Magnet High School
613 17th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37203
Martin Luther King Junior Magnet High School is an exemplary public magnet school in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools district. It stands out from other local schools as it's the only one to provide education for students grades seven through twelve – and its rigorous curriculum has earned a perfect 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school aims to provide a rigorous and respectful learning environment to the 1,269 students enrolled at the school with an emphasis on math and science. All graduating students sit for the ACT, with Martin Luther King Jr. High School posting an average score of 26%. According to the school’s website, it enjoys a 100% graduation rate.
Students at the school can earn college credits through AP courses. Martin Luther King Jr. High School offers 27 advanced placement classes, with 62% of the students participating. The dedication to academic excellence earned the school the National Blue Ribbon award in 2014.
Parent reviews of the school are primarily positive, with one noting the school “meeting every need of these high achieving students.” Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School is an excellent choice for families searching for an academically rigorous environment for their children.
Hume-Fogg Academic High School
700 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Founded in 1912, Hume-Fogg Academic High School is the oldest high school in Nashville. It became the first magnet school in Nashville to serve academically gifted students in 1983. Today, the school serves roughly 903 academically-talented students in grades 9-12. GreatSchools.org gave the school a 10/10 overall rating.
The school prides itself on providing a challenging college prep program that redies studies for post-high school life and beyond. 99% of the graduating students sit for ACTs, with the school posting an average score of 26. Students are required to sit for six courses per semester with a minimum of three AP credits for them to graduate.
The school offers over 23 different advanced placement programs, including two relatively unique courses: AP Capstone/Research class and Advanced Calculus(Post-AP.) Besides the rigorous academic programs, Hume-Fogg Academic High School maintains a nationally-respected arts program that includes jazz, orchestra, visual arts, symphonic band, choir, and theatre. Your child can also enroll in world language programs such as Latin, Spanish, and French.
Current and former students rate the school highly, pointing out that the teachers are welcoming and accommodating. One noted that the school instilled critical thinking and core writing skills that later became instrumental in their college and professional life.
Finding the Right School for Your Child
Nashville’s mark on the national map for its focus on education is indelible. The city is home to numerous top-rated schools that provide diverse education options for its residents. From high-performing elementary schools and charter middle schools with unique learning programs to top-rated academic magnet high schools, there’s a school to fit every student type.
We hope this list will provide a great starting point for your family in search of the right fit for your child. Remember, the ideal school should meet your kid’s unique learning needs.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Yuliia Yuliia/Shutterstock.com.