San Francisco is known for its vibrant culture, diverse communities, and picturesque landscapes. Did you know the city has the highest density of college graduates in the United States? With so many highly educated residents, it's no wonder that San Francisco is home to some of the top-rated schools in the country.
According to the California Department of Education, in the 2019-2020 academic year there were 54,063 K-12 students enrolled in 127 public schools within the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). When choosing a school for your child, the right fit depends on their needs and priorities.
To help you make an informed decision, we've compiled a list of the ten top-rated schools in San Francisco. The ranking used academic performance, student-teacher ratio, faculty experience, and extracurricular opportunities. We also factored in Greatschools.org test scores and parent reviews.
Keep reading to learn more about these top-rated institutions.
Best Elementary Schools
Lafayette Elementary School
4545 Anza Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Lafayette Elementary School is a public school in the Outer Richmond area of San Francisco. It serves 540 students in grades K-5. Lafayette offers a comprehensive curriculum that stresses academic excellence for a diverse student population.
The school serves students representing 23 language groups and students with special needs, highlighting its focus on diversity and inclusivity. Lafayette is also one of the magnet schools for pre-K through fifth-grade hearing-impaired students.
Lafayette Elementary School performs far above the state average in standardized test scores. GreatSchools.org has rated the school a 9 out of 10 overall. Further, students perform better in math, English, and science than other students across the state. 74% of students attain proficiency in English and math, while 58% attain proficiency in science.
With a student-teacher ratio of 15:1, Lafayette Elementary School boasts a much lower ratio than the state average of 22:1. Additionally, 88% of teachers at Lafayette have at least three years of experience, and all full-time teachers are certified.
Lafayette Elementary School offers a variety of courses and programs alongside diverse extracurricular activities. The school also hosts events that honor the diversity of its student population, such as Multicultural Night, Lunar New Year Lion Dance, and Black History Month.
Lafayette Elementary School is a high-performing public school committed to diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence.
Clarendon Alternative Elementary School
500 Clarendon Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94131
Clarendon Alternative Elementary School is a public school in San Francisco Unified School District. It offers quality education to students in grades K-5. With a student population of 555, the school has a student-teacher ratio of 19:1. That's slightly better than the state average of 22:1.
According to GreatSchools.org, Clarendon Alternative Elementary School receives a 9/10 overall rating. The school's standardized test scores are above average. 82% of students attained proficiency in English, 73% in math, and 71% in science. The school has a high level of diversity. White students make up 34%, Asian students at 22%, and two or more races at 17%.
Clarendon Alternative Elementary School offers enrichment programs, including instrumental music lessons and dance courses. Further, teachers teach the core curriculum using various instructional materials and strategies that promote critical thinking and interaction among classmates.
Parents of students at Clarendon Alternative Elementary School appreciate the school's dedication to its students. According to one parent, “The teachers really care about the kids, the administration really tries to do what's best for the children and the community, and the parents are amazing.” With its commitment to providing a quality educational program for every learner, Clarendon Alternative Elementary School is an excellent pick for families living in Twin Peaks.
Chin (John Yehall) Elementary School
350 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
Chin (John Yehall) Elementary School is a public school in San Francisco, California, that serves students in grades K-5. With a student body of 266, Chin Elementary is a smaller school, offering a more intimate learning environment that many families appreciate. The school gets a 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school also offers a few unique programs that help to enrich the student experience. For instance, the Lily Cai Chinese Cultural Dance Program is a weekly program that exposes students to Chinese culture through dance. Additionally, the School Spirit Store is a monthly program that allows students to show their school pride by purchasing branded merchandise.
Furthermore, the school values diversity and inclusivity. The student body is composed of 63% White, 13% Black, 8% Hispanic, 6% two or more races, and 5% Asian students. Altogether, Chin Elementary School provides a quality education to its students. Further, parents are satisfied with the education and support their children receive at the school.
Chinese Immersion School At Deavila
1250 Waller Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
The Chinese Immersion School at Deavila is a public school offering K-5 grades to 378 students. With an excellent GreatSchools rating of 10/10, this school ranks as one of the top-rated public schools in California.
The school boasts above-average standardized math, English, and science test scores. This suggests that students at the Chinese Immersion School at Deavila perform exceptionally well. Furthermore, 82% of students gain proficiency in English, 86% in math, and 66% in science.
The school firmly commits to STEM/STEAM programs, exposing students to the latest technologies and innovations. Apart from the core subjects, the school offers a variety of courses and programs to students, including Chinese (Cantonese) language classes, art classes, music classes, dance, and drama lessons.
The Chinese Immersion School at Deavila has a low student-teacher ratio of 16:1, well below the state average of 17:1. That allows teachers to provide more personalized attention to each student. Also, most teachers at this school have over three years of experience, and all are fully certified.
According to a parent review, the school has excellent teachers, families, and administrators dedicated to providing students with the best possible education. The school offers a nurturing environment that focuses on the whole child, making it an excellent option for families in Haight Ashbury.
Best Middle Schools
A.P. Giannini Middle School
3151 Ortega Street, San Francisco, CA 94122
A.P. Giannini Middle School is a public middle school in the San Francisco Unified School District. The school has a total enrollment of 1,188 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 19:1, better than the state average of 22:1.
The school strongly focuses on student-centered, collaborative, and globally conscious education. The faculty and staff at A.P. Giannini Middle School are committed to promoting a culture of authentic learning that is growth mindset aligned, socially just, compassionate, character-oriented, and community-driven.
The school has a rating of 8/10 from GreatSchools.org, with its standardized test scores far above the state average. Students performed better in math and English than students across the state, with 60% and 75% attaining proficiency in the respective subjects.
A.P. Giannini Middle School offers a wide range of sports, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball. 60% of the faculty members have three years or more of experience. Also, all full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a full-time nurse, social worker, and security guard.
Parents have praised the school's transition infrastructure, which helps incoming 6th graders integrate into middle school life. A.P. Giannini Middle School is an excellent option for students in Outer Sunset and surrounding neighborhoods.
Yu (Alice Fong) Elementary School
1541 12th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
Alice Fong Yu Elementary School is a public school in San Francisco Unified School District that serves students in grades K-8. It is the first Chinese immersion public school in the United States. The school offers a rigorous Chinese language immersion instructional program to prepare students to be competent citizens with Chinese bilingual skills and global perspectives.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 19:1, lower than the state average of 22:1, and a high percentage of experienced and certified full-time teachers. Alice Fong Yu Elementary School has been rated 9/10 by GreatSchools.org, and its standardized test scores are far above the state average. 69% of students attain proficiency in math, and 75% in English.
The school offers extracurricular activities such as sports and enrichment activities such as gardening, ceramic and visual arts, perceptual motor skills, creative movements, and dance. Additionally, the school provides a comprehensive before and after-school tutoring program to ensure the success of all students.
Parents have praised the school's cleanliness and safety, and their dedicated and involved teachers teaching Cantonese, Mandarin, and English while still achieving some of the highest scores in California. The school has a great parent community with many fun events and strong support for the school.
Alice Fong Yu Elementary School offers a unique and immersive learning experience for students who want to learn Chinese.
Lawton Alternative Elementary School
1570 31st Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
Lawton Alternative Elementary School is a public school in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, serving students in grades K-8. The school is part of the San Francisco Unified School District and has a student population of 593. Lawton Alternative Elementary School received a 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Lawton Alternative Elementary School has a robust academic program, with students performing far above the state average in standardized tests. The school has a low student-teacher ratio of 17:1, below the state average of 22:1, ensuring students receive individualized attention from their teachers.
Lawton Alternative Elementary School offers music courses, instrumental music lessons, performance arts courses, and dance. The school has a dedicated and experienced faculty, with 80% of teachers having at least three years of experience and 100% of full-time teachers being certified.
Parent reviews of the school are overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the caring teachers and supportive school community. The school's commitment to developing the whole child through academic excellence, critical thinking, tolerance, and strength of character makes it an excellent choice for families in Outer Sunset seeking a quality education.
Best High Schools
Balboa High School
1000 Cayuga Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112
Balboa High School is a public school in San Francisco Unified School District, serving students in grades 9-12. With an enrollment of 1,217 students, the school offers a college preparatory curriculum with a strong academic focus in the first two years.
Balboa High School attains above-average scores on standardized tests and received a 7/10 rating from GreatSchools.org. The school has an average ACT score of 20 and a graduation rate of 94%. Additionally, 67% of graduates meet UC/CSU entrance requirements.
Balboa High School offers 9 AP courses and has a 12% AP course participation rate. Moreover, 7% of students are enrolled in dual enrollment classes, allowing students to earn college credits while in high school.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, which is lower than the state average of 22:1. Additionally, 51% of teachers have at least three years of experience, and all full-time teachers are certified.
With small learning communities and a strong emphasis on college preparation, Balboa High School provides a supportive learning environment for students in Excelsior and surrounding neighborhoods.
Balboa High School in the News
Balboa High School recently had an incident with a student bringing a gun into the school. The situation was rapidly and efficiently addressed by school officials, who contacted the police. The student was apprehended without difficulty, and an investigation is currently ongoing. The motives of the student are currently unknown.
The situation comes amidst a continuing problem in California with mass shooting-related deaths. The school's efficient response to the situation helped ensure nobody was injured. Understaffing was cited as a reason why the student was able to get into the school with a weapon.
Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School
40 Vega Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School is a public school in the heart of San Francisco that provides a supportive and caring small school environment for its diverse student body. With a focus on academics, athletics, the arts, and extracurricular activities, Raoul Wallenberg aims to prepare its students for success in college, careers, and life.
Founded in 1981, the school emphasizes equitable educational outcomes and enhances students' creativity, self-discipline, and opportunity to grow and shine as responsible citizens.
Raoul Wallenberg has a high 4-year graduation rate of 94% and an above-average performance on standardized tests. Additionally, the school offers dual enrollment classes, and 68% of its graduates meet UC/CSU entrance requirements. The school's overall ranking on GreatSchools.org is 8/10.
Raoul Wallenberg’s student-teacher ratio is 15:1, and all full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a full-time security guard and social worker, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for its students. With a focus on equitable educational outcomes and a supportive small school environment, Raoul Wallenberg prepares its diverse student body for success in college, careers, and life.
Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in the News
Raoul Wallenberg's Tess Carlson, a biology and chemistry teacher, was recently featured by Education Week for her contributions to the school's STEM program. Carlson worked to bring new engineering resources into the school. Given her lack of experience with engineering, she knew she needed extra resources and support to be able to introduce students to this field.
Through her efforts, pre-made labs and lessons on engineering were brought into the school. These resources will allow students to gain experience with engineering, hopefully fostering a greater interest that will translate into college and a career.
Lowell High School
1101 Eucalyptus Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132
Lowell High School is a prestigious public school that has been serving the local community since 1856. With a student body of 2,774, Lowell High School offers a challenging and rigorous academic program that prepares its students for success in college and beyond.
The school is known for its strong academic performance and earns an impressive 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org. Moreover, Lowell High School offers a range of academic programs, including 35 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, with a 55% participation rate. The school also boasts a 91% graduation rate.
Additionally, the school has a 90% ACT college readiness rate, indicating the students are well-prepared for college-level coursework. The student-teacher ratio of 18:1 is lower than the state average of 22:1, which provides students with more individualized attention and support from their teachers.
Lowell High School has a robust co-curricular program that includes over 100 active clubs and service organizations. Students can participate in various activities, from athletics to the visual and performing arts. The school also has a comprehensive athletic program with 32 teams playing 27 sports, allowing students to develop their athletic abilities.
Lowell High School is an excellent choice for students looking for a challenging and supportive academic environment in Lakeshore, San Francisco.
Lowell High School in the News
Lowell High School was recently included in an article by Brown Political Review examining the underlying issues with equity that plague the San Francisco school system. In 2021, Lowell High School voted to change its merit-based academic system to a lottery-based one, causing it to fall in line with the rest of the city's prestigious schools.
The shifts in Lowell's student body that occurred following the change were highlighted by Brown Political Review as evidence for the structural issues within San Francisco schools' pedagogy and funding. Due to a vast unevenness throughout the city's school system, many schools do not receive the funding that they need. This leads to poorer quality education in certain parts of the city. Brown Political Review concluded that Lowell High School's experience with shifting its admissions policy is proof that it is funding and expansive, high-quality learning opportunities that make or break a student body, not an admissions policy.
Finding The Right School For Your Child
San Francisco offers a diverse range of excellent public schools catering to students' different needs and preferences. The schools are committed to providing quality education, co-curricular activities, and support services to help students succeed academically and personally.
From top-performing high schools like Lowell High School to smaller elementary schools like Lawton Alternative Elementary, this list is a great starting point in your search for the right school for your child.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com.