The 10 Best San Diego School Districts, Ranked (2022 Data)

By Lindsay Stefan

Posted on June 28th, 2022

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The 10 Best School Districts in San Diego | Methodology

Wondering which San Diego school districts are the best of the best? We pulled data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the California Department of Education to assess K-12 school districts in San Diego County.

Our ranking is based on critical factors that shape students' ability to learn and thrive, including:

  • Graduation rates
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Spending per student
  • Attendance and suspension rates

The chart below gives you all the basic info at a glance, and further down are in-depth profiles of each district that will tell you everything you need to know to make an informed decision for the students in your family.

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The 10 Best Schools Districts in San Diego

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1. The Best School District in San Diego: Coronado Unified School District (Coronado, CA)

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This district has high levels of funding and solid across-the-board performance in academics, resources, education outcomes, and extracurriculars. An impressive 79% of students in this district are considered proficient in math and/or reading by state standards.

As one of the smaller districts in the community, this district maintains an excellent student-teacher ratio, meeting the needs of just under 3,000 students in grades K-12.

However, this district may not be as diverse as some San Diego districts, so if that’s a priority for your family, you might want to explore other options.

2. San Dieguito Union High School District (San Diego, CA)

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Recognized as the second-best school district in San Diego County, this district also ranks highly statewide. It performs well in nearly every area – academics, education, outcomes, extracurriculars, and health and safety.

Just over 79% of students here were rated well prepared for college/career, and the district has a very good record on discipline and attendance, with a 1.7% suspension rate, and a 5.6% chronic absenteeism rate.

If you have students in grades 7-12, this may be a great district for you, but families with younger children may be better off checking out other options.

3. San Marcos Unified School District (Oceanside-Escondido Township, CA)

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Located in the Oceanside-Escondido Township, the San Marcos Unified School District ranks number four within the city. This district boasts solid academic performance and a strong focus on culture and diversity.

While they have a solid attendance and discipline record, with a suspension rate of only 1.5%, and a chronic absenteeism rate of only 5.8%, only 56.4% of students in this district were rated as well prepared for college/career.

The district’s central location in North San Diego County gives families great access to the rest of the city and the opportunity to live in one of many excellent suburban neighborhoods.

4. Poway Unified School District (San Diego, CA)

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Poway is incredibly diverse, and its academics are rated best in the city. 68% of students in this district were rated as well-prepared for college/career. With a chronic absenteeism rate of only 6%, and a suspension rate of 1.4%, attendance and discipline aren’t serious concerns here.

However, this district’s singular focus on academics may come at a cost. If your family is interested in extracurriculars like debate club or soccer, you may want to check out some of the other schools on the list.

5. Carlsbad Unified School District (Oceanside-Escondido Township, CA)

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This district offers strong educational outcomes, as seen in the high graduation rate, and a college/career preparation rate of 71.9%. The district also features a strong record on attendance and disciplinary issues, with a chronic absenteeism rate of only 6.3%, and a suspension rate of only 2.3%.

Located in a beautiful area with upscale homes and great beach access, Carlsbad residents and students have a safe, vibrant community to call home.

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6. San Diego Unified School District (San Diego, CA)

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This district has strong student culture and racial and economic diversity, along with excellent educational outcomes. With a graduation rate that’s significantly higher than the national average, 60% of students in this district were rated as prepared for college/career.

Partly due to its sheer size, this school district is somewhat short on resources and facilities for sports and fitness. Numbers for attendance and discipline are also slightly elevated compared to other districts on this list, with a suspension rate of 3.8%, and a chronic absenteeism rate of 12.4%.

7. Julian Union High School District (Borrego Springs Township, CA)

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This is one of the smaller districts in the state, though it’s highly rated. With small class sizes and an advantageous student-teacher ratio, this district spends more per student than most of the districts on this list.

There are a few red flags, though – only 41.4% of students here were rated as prepared for college/career, and an elevated suspension rate could be cause for concern.

8. Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District (Valley Center Township, CA)

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This mid-sized district earns high marks for diversity, as well as excellent rankings for sports programs and educational outcomes. However, the district could use some updates to improve its resources and facilities.

A closer look at the district’s higher-than-average suspension and chronic absenteeism rates suggests that discipline and attendance could be problem areas here, and test scores in math and language areas are lower than average.

9. Grossmont Union High School District (Jamul Township, CA)

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Located in the eastern section of the metro area, Grossmont Union offers solid educational outcomes. It’s also one of the most diverse districts in the area.

Academically, the district is decent, but a mixed bag. Language test scores were above average, but math scores were quite a bit below average. Meanwhile, the suspension rate (4.3%) leans toward the high end compared to other districts on this list.

10. Vista Unified School District (Oceanside-Escondido Township, CA)

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This district offers decent educational outcomes, as well as student and cultural diversity.

However, it’s not without shortcomings. The resources and facilities could use an update, and sports and fitness programs have limited offerings. It also has a chronic absenteeism rate of 7.9%, the highest of any district on this list, as well as an elevated suspension rate of 4.2%.

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Methodology

Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the California Department of Education, with rankings based on graduation rate.

FAQs

Does San Diego have good schools?

Yes, San Diego is home to some of the top schools in California, with excellent test scores, high graduation rates, and advanced coursework in math and science. Learn more about the top school districts in San Diego.

What is the best school district in San Diego?

The best school district in San Diego based on graduation rate is Coronado Unified School District, and it's closely followed by other top districts that offer low student-teacher ratios and high budgets for each student. Discover more of the best San Diego school districts.

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