San Diego is a thriving coastal city in southern California renowned for its beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, and vibrant culture. The city also has an impressive education system, with many top-rated schools offering diverse programs and extracurricular activities.
With over 767 public schools serving nearly 478,700 students and 295 private institutions serving around 54,300 students, you may have a challenge picking the right school for your kid. Parents have to consider numerous factors, such as academic performance, faculty credentials, extracurricular activities, and overall culture, among others.
It’s essential to remember that what makes a school “good” can be subjective. Each student's needs and priorities vary significantly. We've compiled a list of the top 10 schools in San Diego, considering various factors to help you make an informed decision.
Our ranking takes into account different factors. These include GreatSchools.org test rankings, parent reviews, curriculum offerings, enrollment, student-teacher ratios, test scores, and college preparation, among many others. So, without further ado, let's explore the ten top-rated schools in San Diego today in ascending order.
Best Elementary Schools
Solana Pacific Elementary School
3901 Townsgate Drive, San Diego, CA 92130
Solana Pacific Elementary is a highly-rated public elementary school in the Solana Beach neighborhood of San Diego, CA. With an enrollment of 519 students, the school has a diverse student body attending grades 4-6. 52% of the students come from minority backgrounds, with 8% from low-income families.
Solana Pacific maintains an impressive student-to-teacher ratio of 19:1, better than the state average of 22:1. This allows teachers to provide personalized and one-on-one attention to the kids. Moreover, 95% of the school's teachers have over three years of experience, ensuring students receive a high-quality education.
Solar Pacific's commitment to academic excellence is evident in its standardized test scores, which are far above the state average. In the latest state assessment, 87% of SPES students were proficient in English. That's compared to the state average of 47%. 81% were proficient in math, compared to the state average of 33%. Unsurprisingly, the school earned an impressive 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school also has an active PTA and parent volunteers dedicated to the kids’ educational needs. Many parents appreciate the school's efforts to keep them informed about their child's progress and to involve them in school events and activities. As such, this school is a desirable option for parents seeking holistic education for their children.
Torrey Hills School
10830 Calle Mar De Mariposa, San Diego, CA 92130
Torrey Hills School is one of the top-rated public elementary schools in San Diego, with a student population of 549. The institution serves grade K-6 students and has an impressive student ratio of 17:1, bettering the state’s average of 22:1. Each student receives adequate attention to achieve their full potential.
The school strives to create an extraordinary experience for its students, hoping the experience ignites the learners’ personal genius, as stated in the institution’s mission statement. This drive is reflected in the school’s academic performance in standardized tests, with 81% of students achieving proficiency in English and 80% in math.
All of the full-time teachers are certified, with 95% having more than two years experience of teaching experience.
Torrey Hills School has an impressive 10/10 rating from greatschools.org. One parent described their child's experience at Torrey Hills School as “good,” noting that their kindergartener enjoyed attending school daily. Despite having 21-23 students per class, the parent said that each child could maintain a relationship with the teacher, who could address each child's individual needs through after-school classes.
Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary
11778 Cypress Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92131
Considered one of the best-performing elementary schools in San Diego, E. B Scripps Elementary is an institution on a mission to provide world-class education to prepare its students to meet opportunities and overcome challenges in the 21st century successively. The school has a student population of 736 kids spread across grades K-6.
GreatSchools.org gives E.B Scripps Elementary a rating of 10/10, noting that the students at the school are making far greater academic progress than other students in the state. The findings corroborate the school’s stellar performance in standardized tests, where 88% of the students achieve proficiency in English, 87% in math, and 84% in science.
The student-teacher ratio at E.B Scripps Elementary is 23:1, slightly worse than the 22:1 average for the state. However, 97% of the teachers have three or more years of experience, and 100% of the full-time teachers are certified.
Parents hail the instructive curriculum that includes music and arts programs as one of the major positives. The school staff is friendly and highly involved in the student’s educational journey. This makes Scripps Elementary an ideal choice for parents searching for high-quality education for their kids in San Diego.
Sage Canyon School
5290 Harvest Run Drive, San Diego, CA 92130
Founded in 2000, Sage Canyon is a top-rated public elementary school in the Del Mar Union Elementary School District. The institution has 657 students in grades K-6. The school focuses on a strong academic core that forms a solid foundation for quality instruction.
Sage Canyon prides itself on cultural inclusivity and intelligence established by its diverse student body. 52% of the students come from minority backgrounds, with 4% from economically disadvantaged families. The student-teacher ratio is better than the state’s average, with one teacher for every 18 students.
The impressively low ratio allows the instructors to provide a personalized learning experience for each child. Besides, 100% of the full-time teachers are certified, with 93% having more than three years of teaching experience.
The student's performance in standardized tests is exemplary, with 91% of the students attaining the proficiency score in English, 90% for math, and 84% for science. The state averages are 47%, 33%, and 29%, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the school earns a 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Best Middle Schools
Design 39 Campus
17050 Del Sur Ridge Road, San Diego, CA 92127
Design 39 Campus is a public middle school in Poway Unified School District that has established itself as one of the top learning institutions in the area. With an enrollment of 1,134 students in grades K-8, it has a diverse student body, with 56% being minorities and 12% coming from low-income families. Despite a student-teacher ratio of 24:1, which is slightly worse than the state average, the school has an impressive record of academic achievement.
Design 39 Campus has consistently scored far above average on state tests. The school has an 82% proficiency rate in English and a science proficiency rate of 71%, compared to the state average of 47 and 29%, respectively. Additionally, the school has a 100% pass rate for Algebra 1, contributing to the overall 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
One aspect that sets Design 39 Campus apart is its focus on developing essential life skills in addition to academic excellence. The school has a project-based learning curriculum, where students are challenged to think critically and creatively to solve real-world problems. This approach fosters collaboration, teamwork, and communication skills among students.
The school's staff is also highly regarded by parents, with 57% of teachers having more than three years of experience. Parents have praised the staff's dedication to the students and the support they provide to ensure each child reaches their full potential.
Pacific Trails Middle School
5975 Village Center Loop Road, San Diego, CA 92130
Pacific Trails Middle is the premier public middle school within the San Dieguito Union High School District in the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood. The school serves students in grades 7-8 and has a total population of 728.
The school earns a10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org. On standardized tests, 85% of the students attain English proficiency for the respective grade. 80% are proficient in Math skills, while 70% are proficient in science. These scores are far above the state average.
Pacific Trails Middle School has a student-teacher ratio of 27:1. While the teachers are slightly overstretched, all are certified. Besides, 95% of the instructors have three or more years of experience.
The school also offers numerous extra-curricular activities through over a dozen clubs, such as the science olympiad, debate club, crocheting club, and DIY Theatre Club. The different clubs and sports can nurture your child into an all-rounded student.
Parents in the school appreciate the committed and enthusiastic teachers whose instructions go beyond just the four walls of the classroom. Pacific Trails Middle is an excellent choice for parents that wish to raise well-rounded kids.
Carmel Valley Middle School
3800 Mykonos Lane, San Diego, CA 92130
Carmel Valley Middle School is a National Blue Ribbon School with the San Dieguito Union High School District. The school’s performance on standardized tests is exemplary, earning an overall score of 10/10 from GreatSchools.org. Carmel Valley has a student population of 1135 across grades 7-8.
All the full-time teachers at the school are certified, with 97% having more than three years of teaching experience. The student-teacher ratio at Carmel Valley is 27:1, slightly worse than the state’s average of 22:1.
Carmel Valley promotes a culture of inclusivity, with 54% of the students coming from minority backgrounds. 9% of the students come from low-income households and tend to perform better than the state average of kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Parents love the school for its intensive academic curriculum alongside the helpful school staff. They are also full of praise for the teachers that manage kids from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds. Carmel Valley Middle school is a perfect option for parents seeking an institution that supports each individual's unique interests and abilities.
Best High Schools
Westview High School
13500 Camino Del Sur, San Diego, CA 92129
Westview High School is a public high school in the Tolleson Union High School District. The school serves a diverse population of 2,384 students in grades 9-12. 58% of the student body comes from minority backgrounds, including 16% from low-income families. GreatSchool’s review shows that these students from low-income families tend to perform better than other low-income students in the state.
While the student-teacher ratio at Westview is slightly worse than the state average at 26:1, 82% of teachers have more than three years of experience, providing a stable and experienced teaching staff.
The school's standardized test scores are above average on the state level, with 89% of students proficient in English, 73% in math, and 59% in science. These scores are far higher than the state’s average.
Westview High School has a high graduation rate of 97% and a 94% SAT Grade 11 college readiness rate, reflecting its commitment to preparing its students for college and beyond. The school offers more than 26 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, allowing students to challenge themselves and earn college credits while still in high school.
Westview High School's commitment to excellence in education and its success in preparing its diverse student body for success makes it one of the best schools to enroll your child in San Diego.
Del Norte High School
16601 Nighthawk Lane, San Diego, CA 92127
Del Norte High School is part of the Poway Unified School District. The school first opened its doors in 2009 and serves the Del Sur and 4S Ranch communities in San Diego, CA. Del Norte has a population of 2351 students in grades 9-12, with students from minority backgrounds accounting for 56%.
It boasts a 97% graduation rate with a grade 11 SAT college readiness rate. Del Norte’s performance earns a 10/10 rating from GreatSchools. The students perform far better than the state’s average, where 84% are proficient in English, 76% in math, and 55% in science.
Del Norte has a student-teacher ratio of 26:1, which is worse than the state average. All full-time teachers are certified, with 79% of the faculty having three years or more experience.
Parents in the school speak highly of the professionalism the teachers and coaches display. Del Norte is an excellent pick if your child has athletic abilities, with the school focusing more on developing a well-rounded individual.
Canyon Crest Academy
5951 Village Center Loop Road, San Diego, CA 92130
Canyon Crest Academy is a top-rated public high school in the San Dieguito Union High School District. With an enrollment of 2,572 students, Canyon Crest boasts a diverse student body, with 46% of students coming from minority backgrounds and 6% from low-income families. Despite its large student population, the school maintains a student-to-teacher ratio of 27:1. Further, 95% of teachers have more than three years of experience.
What sets Canyon Crest apart from other high schools in San Diego is its comprehensive curriculum and academic rigor. With over 26 AP classes available, 67% of students participate in the AP program, setting them up for success in college and beyond.
Furthermore, Canyon Crest boasts a college readiness rate above the state average, with a 99% graduation rate and an impressive SAT Grade 11 college preparation rate of 98%, well above the state average of 50%. The school also excels in standardized test scores, with 88% of students proficient in English and 79% proficient in math, far above the state average.
The Best School Should Match Your Child’s Individual Needs
San Diego has numerous top-rated schools with excellent academic programs, dedicated teachers, and a diverse student population. From Solana Pacific Elementary School and Design 39 Campus to Torrey Hills School and Canyon Crest High School, these institutions have demonstrated their ability to prepare students for the next phase of their academic careers.
However, it's important to remember that the right school for each student varies for all individuals, and you should consider your child's unique needs, interests, and learning styles before making a decision. With these ten top-rated schools as a starting point, you can feel confident in your search for the best educational opportunities for your children.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com.