MB Schools Smash It Again

By Dave Fratello | May 30th, 2013

The high quality of Manhattan Beach public schools drives interest in local real estate.

We're reminded of it time and again. We consistently hear from clients coming into the area from the Westside, or from other parts of the USA, that the public school system is a central factor in their choices.

We can't say much about this better than we did about 18 months ago, in "It's Got to Be the Schools."

In that post, we framed the choice facing families with school-age (or almost school-age) children this way:

Living in the LA area, if you don't happen to live in a neighborhood with great schools, here are some of your options: private school, transferring to another "good" school nearby on a year-by-year permit basis, fudging your residence address, home schooling. Or sucking it up and hoping for the best. And then there's Manhattan Beach.

That post also celebrated the fact that MB was ranked by Forbes magazine as #1 nationwide, by their reckoning, as offering the "best schools for your real estate buck" – among markets with a median price of $800K or more.

This week the newest batch of statewide testing data came in, and MB continues to outshine nearly all public schools in California. These are 2012 testing data for the Academic Performance Index (API).

The MB Unified School District placed #3 statewide, with only San Marino and La Cañada placing higher. (True story: We were recently chatting with a buyer trying to decide between the two very unlike communities of MB and La Cañada, based strictly on the schools.)

The kids actually just finished 2013's statewide testing program, so these data are a little "old," but that doesn't make them any less important.

Here are the 2012 API data for MB:

MBUSD overall: API score 940 overall (+8 over 2011; #3 in state)


  • Robinson: 971 (+9 over 2011)
  • Grand View: 969 (+12)
  • Pacific: 965 (+5)
  • Meadows: 951 (+5)
  • Pennekamp: 948 (+6)

Middle & High

  • Mira Costa HS: 916 (+5) 
  • MB Middle School: 959 (+14)

In addition to providing scores, the state ranks schools by two other criteria based on API numbers.

First, individual schools get a 1-10 ranking, with 10 being best, indicating how they rank statewide against all schools. A score of 10 says the school is in the top decile (call it the top 10%).

Every school in MB, elementaries and both the middle school and high school, got that first 10.

Then schools are ranked against "similar schools" in an effort to balance out the impact of demographics, language differences and even teacher qualifications.

By the "similar schools" ranking, three elementaries also scored 10s: Robinson, Grand View and Pacific. In 2011, none did, so this is a notable step up.

Meantime, Meadows, the middle school and Mira Costa HS all scored a very impressive 8 on the scale.

As a not-incidental side note, we should point out that our friends in Hermosa Beach hit homers as well: Both elementaries, Hermosa View and Hermosa Valley, got double 10s.

So, yes, you live here already for countless reasons – sun, surf, family, the small-town atmosphere, and so forth.

But for some, it's the schools that come first, and the rest of those things are just nice add-ons. And when they come to MB specifically for the schools, they're going to create a virtuous cycle – more people who prioritize education will tend to bring students who perform well, thereby enticing more people to come for the schools. For the long-term future of MB, and MB real estate, that's good.

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