Because of its location near the nation’s capital, its charming historic Old Town, and its median family income of $109,228 (the highest of any city in Virginia), outsiders might think that Alexandria boasts a first-rate public-school system. It doesn’t. The quality of the public schools within the city varies greatly, and system as a whole lags behind those in neighboring Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Pick your measuring stick: U.S. News & World Report, Zillow, GreatSchools.org, Trulia, parental chat boards, the Washington Post ranking of local high schools. Alexandria performs poorly by any metric. SchoolDigger ranks the district 96th out of 130 districts in the state. This isn’t to say Alexandria schools are bad, exactly, but some of them are particularly subpar for an area with such relative wealth.
Jefferson-Houston, which teaches students from pre-K to eighth grade, lost its accreditation in 2012. The school, which is 67 percent black, narrowly avoided being taken over by the state in a subsequent court battle. A little more than 15,000 students attend 16 public schools in Alexandria, and the district spends $16,999 per student, according to the latest statistics. Class sizes are small, averaging 18 students in elementary school, 20 in middle school, and 22 in high school. Despite those advantages, students in Alexandria’s public schools underperform the statewide average in subject after subject. In the 2015–16 school year, 80 percent of Virginia students passed English proficiency exams; 73 percent of students in Alexandria did. In math, 80 percent statewide passed; 68 percent of Alexandria students did. Statewide, 77 percent of students passed a test of writing proficiency; 69 percent of Alexandria students did. In history, 86 percent of students passed statewide; 77 percent of Alexandria students did. In science, 83 percent of students statewide passed; 69 percent of Alexandria students did.
“An emphasis on adult employment“.