Are Cary High Schools better than Chapel Hill High Schools?
Ask that question to a parent from Chapel Hill and you’ll get a NO, our high schools are the best in the state! After all that’s one of the reason they pay more for a home and pay higher taxes than Cary families.
In the last 6 months the median price for a home in Cary was $345,000 for 2800 sq ft. In the Chapel Hill school district(includes Carrboro) the median sold price was $399,900 for 2450 sq ft. The tax rate in Cary is .864 and is 1.54 in Chapel Hill.
Are Chapel Hill schools worth the extra cost?
Not everyone looks at the school rankings in the same way.
Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools have the highest SAT scores in the state. Property values are very high in Chapel Hill because of the schools. If you look at the top high schools there isn’t a huge difference in SAT scores. Cary high schools are in the top 10.
Take a look at the NC SAT Scores 2013 complete report. This will tell you all about the SAT scores and if you love data it’s for you. If you just want to know the local school systems SAT scores I’ve pulled them out and they are here. Includes: Wake County (includes Cary and Apex), Durham, Orange County (including the separate school system of Chapel Hill/Carrboro) and Chatham County (some houses in Chatham county have a Chapel Hill address)
Triangle High School AP classes
AP classes are high school classes that give students advanced placement or college credit. This can really help out because a student with AP credit may be able to skip those huge introductory classes and go right to the good interesting upper level classes. It’s money saving too.
Because AP classes are more challenging than regular classes they are usually weighted with a possible 5.0 grade point rather than the standard 4.0. In some Triangle schools with competitive students and lots of ap classes just taking a regular class in the arts can bring down a students grade point because the best grade possible is a 4.0. That’s can be hard for a student with a passion for chorus or theatre. A 4.0 grade point just isn’t good enough for some students and parents these days. One indication of how challenging a high school is can be the number of students taking AP tests and the scores they get. Scores range from 1-5 and usually a 3 or better is needed for college credit. Here are the Triangles High School AP test statistics.
Notice the participation rate at East Chapel High School compared with some of the other Triangle schools. It’s a very competitive school.
Many of my clients use the ratings on GreatSchools.org to decide the best school for them. Out of 10 points, Chapel Hill High School is a 5 (#1 in SAT scores) and East Chapel Hill High is a 6 (#2 in SAT scores). Apex High is an 8 (7 in SAT scores) and Green Hope High in Cary is an 8 (#5 in state SAT scores) and Panther Creek High (9th in SAT’s) in Cary is an 8. I’m not sure how accurate these scores are but many people choose what school they want their child to attend based on these scores.
US News and World Reports
US News and World Reports ranks the best high schools in the country. Carrboro High is ranked #2 in the state and 189 nationally. It only has a 5 Great Schools score. Northwood High in Chatham County in ranked #6 in the state and 899 in the US and has a 6 Great Schools score.
If you are looking for an excellent high school in an area with reasonably priced homes, Apex High would be a good choice. Unfortunately, along with 13 other Wake County schools the enrollment is capped. That means that even if Apex High is your base school you can’t go there and will have to choose from an overflow school. I have more information on the Wake County (includes Cary) school assignments and capped schools in this post.
Visit the school and talk with parents
I know it’s confusing. My best advice is to visit the schools and meet the principal. Then talk with parents about their experiences. If your timing is right try and go to the parent teacher open houses right before school starts. That will give you a good insight about the schools and lots of opportunity to talk with parents.
by Marianne Howell Wright
Triangle Area Real Estate