Boise's Best Schools: Guide to the Top Public & Charter Schools
Posted by Lisa Kohl on Friday, April 16th, 2021 at 10:33am
Buying a new home is much more than comparing square footage and lot sizes. Buying a new home means planting roots in a new community, discovering new favorite coffee shops, and perhaps most importantly, enrolling your children in new schools. We understand that all parents want what’s best for their children. Paramount of that is helping children get the best education for their learning style and needs. In fact, for many clients, finding the right school(s) for their children is a top consideration when selecting a new place to call home.
As the saying goes, "knowledge is power," but sifting through multiple websites and educational rankings to find accurate, up-to-date information can be daunting. That’s where we come in. We've done that homework for you by reviewing student test scores, national rankings, and gathering student and parent feedback to create a curated guide to the best schools in the Boise School District.
Best Boise Elementary Schools
Highlands Elementary School
3434 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 83702
(208) 854-5050 | Website
Grades K-6 | 312 students
Nestled beside a babbling brook, this newly-renovated school is full of high achievers and beloved teachers. Highlands is ranked seventh in the state among all public and charter schools by the Idaho Department of Education. The ranking takes into account factors like student achievement, demographics and enrollment, as well as non-academic indicators such as student engagement surveys and teacher retention.
The student-teacher ratio stands at 22:1, which is standard for schools in the district. However, the staff here is enthusiastic and dedicated, and students overall excel. The school is known for having a high number of students who participate in the district’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program.
Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) data shows that 83% of students are proficient in English at their grade level (the state average is 55%), and 75% of students are proficient in math (the state average is 45%).
The school is tucked into the quiet Highlands neighborhood, which outdoorsy families love for its proximity to the foothills and Bogus Basin Recreation Area. It has a very active parents’ association, which appeals to many who prefer to take an active role in their children’s education. In addition, it feeds into North Junior High and Boise High School, two other notable schools on our list.
Hidden Springs Elementary School
5480 W Hidden Springs Dr, Boise, ID, 83714
(208) 854-4920 | Website
Grades K-6 | 343 students
Tucked away in the Boise foothills sits the planned community of Hidden Springs and its namesake elementary school. This is the ideal community for families who believe in knowing their neighbors and looking out for one another. The school is situated at the heart of Hidden Springs, allowing all students to walk or ride their bikes to school each morning. And each morning, they’re greeted by their principal Kurt Thaemert, who stands out front with a ready smile.
Teachers at Hidden Springs are praised by parents who say their children are challenged in the classroom regardless of their learning levels. Children who need extra help, and those who need an extra challenge, equally have their needs met.
Testing data shows that 68% of students are proficient in English for their grade, while 56% are proficient in math. In addition, thanks to a highly invested parents association, classrooms are equipped with the latest technology, giving students a technological edge that many others in the district simply don’t have.
Longfellow Elementary School
1511 N 9th St, Boise, ID, 83702
(208) 854-5450 | Website
Grades K-6 | 330 students
This is the best school for parents who are keen on ensuring their children are citizens of the world. Longfellow is an international focus school, which means each month students learn the historical, political and geographic aspects of a new country. Students also take weekly Spanish lessons in addition to the standard curriculum.
The Idaho Department of Education gave this North End elementary school the ranking of Goal Maker/Top Performer, a high achievement designation showing that their students rank in the 90th percentile or above for the state. This isn’t surprising, given that ISAT data shows 79% of Longfellow students proficient at English; 73% proficient at math; and 85% proficient at science for their grade level.
The student-teacher ratio at Longfellow is 21:1. Students with learning disabilities make up 10% of the student population, which also suggests that teachers and the administration are adept at identifying students’ learning needs and accommodating them.
Collister Elementary School
4426 Catalpa Dr, Boise, ID, 83703
(208) 854-4650 | Website
Grades K-6 | 246 students
This is the ideal elementary school for parents who believe in “free-range” parenting. Parents and students alike are devoted to Collister Elementary for two main reasons: its outstanding principal, Tara Coe, and location right next to the neighborhood’s Catalpa Park.
Boise’s Collister neighborhood is highly walkable and full of outdoorsy families. It’s not unusual to see children transition straight from school to the playground next door, until an authority figure walks over to collect them for dinner.
Collister’s principal sets the tone for the school, and fosters great relationships with teachers, students and their families. For this reason, teachers at Collister are highly experienced and teacher retention is very high. (As anyone who’s had to navigate an issue at their child’s school knows, having an empathetic, diplomatic principal is priceless.) This translates to the classroom as well. Students performed strongly on state ISAT tests – 87% were proficient in English for their grade, while 85% were proficient in math. The student-teacher ratio is comparable to other top elementary schools at 22:1. The elementary school was also noted as a Goal Maker/Top Performer by the Idaho education department.
Another defining characteristic of Collister is its diversity. Nonwhite and multiracial children make up more than 20% of the student body, which is a huge draw for parents looking to enroll their children in a diverse learning community.
Best Boise Junior High Schools
East Junior High
5600 E Warm Springs Ave, Boise, ID, 83716
(208) 854-4730 | Website
Grades 7-9 | 729 students
With a student-teacher ratio of 17:1, East Junior High feels more intimate than most in the Treasure Valley. The school, which feeds into Timberline High School (also mentioned on our list) is praised by parents for hands-on leadership and highly invested teachers.
When it comes to testing, students perform better on core subject tests than across the state in general: 63% are proficient in English for their grade (as opposed to 55% statewide); 57% show proficiency in math (compared to 44% statewide); and 56% of students being proficient in science for their grade (the statewide average here is higher, at 59%).
East is more ethnically diverse than most in the Boise School District, with 20% of students identifying as nonwhite, which attracts families for which diversity is a priority. It’s also been praised as a “promising” school, meaning that students make excellent gains in standardized tests from one year to the next. This is just one indication of the care and attention teachers put into the classroom.
North Junior High
1105 N 13th St, Boise, ID, 83702
(208) 854-5740 | Website
Grades 7-9 | 995 students
Many students who attend North sing its praises, thanks to the school’s team of dedicated teachers and centralized (and highly walkable) location. Parents have also reported that the school handles bullying and accommodating student learning differences very well.
This school is known for its strong visual and dramatic arts and music programs, so if you have a creative student in your home, this junior high is a great option. Students perform better than the state average on ISAT tests, with 64% being proficient in English for their grade; 55% showing proficiency in math; and 51% of students being proficient in science for their grade (once again lower than the state average of 59% of students).
Situated in the heart of Boise’s historic North End, the junior high feeds into Boise High School. It is also within walking distance to downtown, which appeals to many teenagers who are testing their autonomy and leaning into adulthood. The student-teacher ratio is 19:1.
Best Boise High Schools
Boise High School
1010 W Washington St, Boise, ID, 83702
(208) 854-4270 | Website
Grades 9-12 | 1,521 students
Boise High has shepherded generations of students through its stately Roman-inspired pillars for nearly 120 years, as the city grew up around it. The high school is ranked 6th out of all schools in the state by U.S. News. This is based in part by the school’s Advanced Placement offerings – 68% of students took at least one AP exam. In addition, its four-year graduation rate is 87%.
Teaching spots at Boise High are highly coveted and attract some of the best talent in the district. Teacher retention is high, with students reporting that many educators acting as mentors throughout their time at the school. In addition, Boise High is known for having very strong arts programs. The school has an especially robust drama department and a highly reputable orchestra program.
Students scored very highly when compared to their statewide peers: 78% were proficient in English (compared to 55% statewide); 61% showed proficiency in math (as opposed to 44% statewide); and 77% in science (compared to 59% across the state).
Finally, students self-report that teachers and staff go above and beyond to accommodate diverse learning styles, and make students feel supported and accepted in general.
Timberline High School
701 E Boise Ave, Boise, ID, 83706
(208) 854-6230 | Website
Grades 10-12 | 1,285 students
Twenty years ago, Boise High’s overcrowded student population was halved and shepherded to this new east Boise high school. Thus, a new school rivalry was born. Timberline is ranked 7th in the state by U.S. News, right behind Boise High. Like its rival, Timberline tends to snatch up some of the best teachers in the district. Because of this, its students are incredibly prepared for graduation and beyond.
Seventy percent of Timberline students took at least one AP test and the four-year graduation rate is 92%. Yet student state testing numbers are lower than Boise High (while still higher than state averages): 70% are proficient in English; 53% in math; and 77% in science.
That said, Timberline students are a sporty bunch that excel in nearly every sports-related arena. This is the school to consider if you have athletic kids with high aspirations for becoming state champions. The coaches at this school are known for developing their athletes’ skills while fostering inclusive, positive communities.
Best Boise Charter Schools
202 E 42nd St, Garden City, ID 83714
(208) 426-9840 | Website
Grades PreK-8 | 368 students
One of Idaho’s first charter schools, Anser opened in 1999 with a core of experienced educators. The school’s mission is exploring new methods of teaching and learning, while helping students grow into life-long learners. The charter follows the EL Education Network, a national framework that highlights active learning that is connected to real-world needs, among other things.
Anser has also been named a Goal Maker/Top Performer by the state education department, which illustrates its superior educational foundation. With regards to statewide tests, 66% of Anser students were proficient in English; 53% were proficient in math; and 73% were proficient in science.
Students and parents alike describe their time in the Anser family as “transformative.” That is what many liken it to – a family. Because of this, and the leadership’s strong dedication to happy teachers and fostering curiosity in students, the lottery system to get into the school is highly competitive.
Future Public School
511 E 43rd St, Garden City, ID 83714
(208) 854-3923 | Website
Grades K-4 | 292 students
This two-year-old charter school located along the Boise River in Garden City is striking for its dedication to STEM learning and supporting diversity. Here, students – or “Engineers” as they’re called – are equally comfortable programming robots and identifying living organisms in the river.
Students are encouraged to participate in “risky play” (e.g. how a hammer works) and disciplined by a “restorative justice” model (i.e. adults help students identify harm and help repair it).
As we mentioned, diversity is important at this charter. Forty-nine percent of students come from low-income families; 15% of students are learning English; and 14% of students have a reported learning disability. To successfully support these populations, the school staffs a Director of Special Education, multiple case managers, an occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, and intervention specialists.
The charter plans to continue adding grades until it is a K-8 school. The current student-teacher ratio is 16:1.
Sage International Charter School
457 E Parkcenter Blvd, Boise, ID 83706
(208) 995-0301 | Website
K-12 | 1,000 students
This international school has big chops: in 2019, the high school graduation rate was 98% while the state average was 81%. In addition, 73% of graduates were pursuing college. But what does it mean to attend an international school?
At Sage, it means students are required to study at least two languages and participate in a career-related program that helps them develop the personal and professional skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
Students are also encouraged to participate in Boise State University’s Entrepreneurial Challenge – a competition similar to “Shark Tank” in which students pitch their ideas for new gadgets and apps to address existing world problems. These students compete against college teams and often win, which is a testament to the learning they receive at Sage.
The school also offers wilderness expeditions and survival courses that you’d be hard-pressed to find at other high schools in the area.
Students test above statewide averages in the core curriculum as well. Sixty-five percent of students tested proficient in English; 51% in math; and 76% in science.
Lisa is a top Idaho Realtor and creator of WeKnowBoise.com. Whether buying or selling a home, we provide full-service real estate solutions dedicated to helping our clients achieve their goals. From Southeast Boise to the North End, up to Eagle and west to Meridian, or right in the middle of the Boise Bench and downtown - We Know Boise.
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