“And the winner is…”
If you have ever witnessed a night at the Academy Awards, you’ll hear this phrase over and over. In order to make justice to all the different aspects of a movie, The Academy has created many categories for which movies get nominated as “the best”.
School Districts, like movies, are complex entities with strengths and weaknesses. Some are the best in some aspects, and others are better in others.
Is it true what they say about Fairfax County Schools?
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is reported to be one of the biggest and best school districts in the state of Virginia, and in the Country; let’s see how Fairfax County Public Schools compare with its neighboring school districts.
First, let’s find out which school districts are in the DC Metro area –
School Districts in the DC Metro area
Some of Fairfax County’s neighboring school districts (aside from Washington, DC’s) are:
- Alexandria City
- Arlington County
- Falls Church City
- Loudoun County
- Manassas City
- Prince William County
- Montgomery County
- Prince George’s County
Here is a map with the location of school districts in the DC Metro area
Now that we know where they are, let’s compare school districts
To get an idea of how Fairfax County Public Schools compare with its neighboring school districts, let’s look at 3 elements:
- Size (enrollment)
- Cost per pupil
- High School graduation rate
1. Size (enrollment)
In the table above, you can see that Fairfax County Public Schools is the largest school district in the area in terms of enrollment with over 175,000 students approved to be enrolled for the 2011-2012 school year.
But, being the largest, do the economies of scale allow it to have one of the lowest costs per student?
2. Cost per pupil
As expected, partly due to a lack of economies of scale, the smaller districts such as Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church spent almost 50% more than Fairfax County per student in FY 2010.
Compared to all of its neighboring school districts which average a cost per pupil of $14,424, Fairfax County spends less than the average ($12,898 for FY 2010).
Would this mean that the districts with a higher cost per pupil than Fairfax County have a higher quality of education? Let’s look at the high school graduation rates for an answer:
3. High School graduation rates
According to the table above, for the school year 2008-2009, Fairfax County was in 3rd place for Virginia on-time graduation rates.
However, it was in 2nd place for percent of graduates going on to post-secondary education (91.7%) and it had one of the lowest dropout rates of the region (1.43%).
Fairfax Schools live up their reputation compared with surrounding districts
This information points to the fact that Fairfax County Schools, is the largest in the region and that it also spends its budget in providing high quality education for its students.
- Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) district is one of 10+ school districts in the DC metro area
- FCPS is the largest district of the region – measured by enrollment
- In terms of cost per pupil, FCPS spends less than the average spent by the other districts in the DC metro area
- FCPS has an over 90% Virginia on-time graduation rate – one of the highest in the region.
Fairfax County Public Schools spends its budget on quality education for its students… should we give it an “Academy Award”?
If you are interested in finding out more about how Fairfax County Public Schools compare to the other school districts in the DC-metro area, here is the official source of this article:
The Washington Area Boards of Education FY 2011 Guide
P.S. Don’t forget to Download the FREE No-Tears Guide to Moving to Fairfax County, VA
Image of statue by Dave_B_ on Flickr