A Guide to Schools in Austin


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by City Lifestyle

Austin, Texas, is a large and welcoming community that is quickly becoming one of the state's most popular destinations. Filled with a diverse range of residents and many different industries, it can provide a full range of other educational options for parents and students. Austin schools include many options, broken down between public, private, charter, Christian, and boarding schools.

As a result, parents and students need to fully understand their options to understand which is the best choice for their needs. By examining all of these choices, it is possible to narrow down the best Austin schools for students' needs. Understanding each of these school types' benefits can also make it easier for those settling in the area to understand elements such as school districts and where they serve.

Public Schools

Public schools provide an inexpensive educational option that is suitable for a broad range of different individuals. A vast majority of Austin's students attend these institutions, where they receive not just an in-depth range of subjects but access to sports programs, various extracurricular activities, and much more. These options make it easier for students to engage and experience a full range of possibilities.

Though public schools have some limitations – such as dense class sizes that may make one-on-one education nearly impossible – Austin provides many options that make them a great choice. The city's public schools include many different districts designed to handle a broad range of student needs in a streamlined and efficient manner.

School Districts

Austin schools consist of a handful of districts. These include Leander Independent School District, Manor Independent School District, Lake Travis Independent School District, and Del Valle Independent School District. These districts serve a smaller portion of the city, typically named after the suburb or section in which they are located. 

Most of the city is covered by the Austin Independent School District, by far the largest in the area. It covers over half of the town and 81,000 of its students and is broken up into seven different districts. These are divided based on geographical proximity. District one is located in the upper-right segment of the city near Daffan, where 290 and 275 intersect. There are around 16 elementary schools within the district, three middle schools, and one high school.

District two is just south of district one, along the mid-east portion of the city near Southeast Austin and South Congress. Highway 71 primarily serves this area. Currently, there are about nine elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school here. District three runs between district four and one up by North Lamar. It is served with 12 elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.

District four runs along the northwest segment of Austin, serving Crestview and the surrounding area. Both Highway 1 and 360 run through this district. Seven elementary, two middle, and one high school are available here. District five is located towards the downtown area near Last Creek, Rolling Wood, and Highways 1 and 360. Residents can choose six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school in this district.

District six runs along the city's southwest border and includes some of South Congress, Bluff Springs, and Manchaca. Nine elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools are available in this region. Lastly, district seven serves a large southwest portion of the city, including Cedar Valley, Circle C. Ranch, and Bear Creek. Choose between one high school, three middle schools, and 10 different elementary schools in this district.

High Schools

High school provides students with the chance to master their educational needs and prepare for a career. Many Austin high schools have college-prep classes that emulate this environment's demands and make it easier for students to transition to this challenging situation. For those who do not want to attend college, various training programs are available for careers like carpentry, auto repair, and more. Courses of these types help those who are interested in self-sufficiency right after college.

Public high schools in Austin have a pretty broad range of student numbers, focuses, and student-to-teacher ratios. For instance, Akins High School on South First Street is considered an “Early College” program that helps prepare college-bound students for this lifestyle. Its downtown location provides easy access to various parks, baseball fields, and even proximity to the Central Texas Badgers football stadium.

Alternative schools in the area help students who may have struggled in other schools due to behavioral issues or conflicts with teachers or other students—many students who dropped out come here to earn their high school degree or the equivalent.

Other options include preparatory schools – such as those focused on science or engineering – and those that help deaf students. These specialized options often include more hands-on work, a smaller class size, and a more welcoming environment. However, they also often integrate athletics and other programs to keep students entertained and engaged with their education.

Westlake High School

Westlake High School is one of the most populous public high schools in the area. As part of the Eanes Independent School District, it does not fall within the Austin Independent School District outlined earlier. This district has just around 7,000 students and focuses on college preparation. Westlake is consistently rated a Blue Ribbon School and has been awarded the Texas Successful Schools Award for Outstanding Performance.

Anderson High School

Anderson High School serves the fourth district in the Austin Independent School District. Located on Mesa Drive and near Highway 1, around 2,200 students attend here. Anderson has served as a common breeding ground for professional athletes, with Ben Fricke, Dick Lane, and Thomas Henderson of the NFL graduating from this school, as well as Justin Ruggiano of the MLB.

Middle Schools

Middle schools exist as a bridge between the critical early elementary years and the later high school demands. They help a student struggling to understand themselves mature and become ready for more challenging high school subjects. And Austin has many different middle schools that can serve this need and provide young individuals with a better education. 

For instance, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders on Prather Lane is a college-prep middle school that starts at the sixth grade and goes all the way to the twelfth. As an all-girls school, it includes various athletics, like volleyball and cross country competition, and was voted in the top 20 for the Washington Post challenge. Located not far from an extensive sports field, this option is good for the serious-minded young girl.

More general options for middle schools include Bailey Middle School on Lost Oasis Hollow. Serving 6-8 grade, Bailey allows students to focus on their high school degree before high school. The Early College High School Program lets these students earn both high school and college credits, making it easier for them to transition to higher education later in life.

Lamar Middle School

This middle school, located not far from the intersection of Texas 2222 and Burnet Road, serves 6-8 grades and provides a comprehensive level of education in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and more. Their career technology program helps teach children interested in computer science, while their gifted and talented program accelerates a child's education to make it more successful.

Elementary Schools

The early years of a child's development are critical for their overall educational success. That's why elementary schools try to focus on smaller class sizes and more hands-on education. Students at this age need more one-on-one time to succeed. The many high-quality elementary school options in Austin should handle this need efficiently and effectively for most students.

The options here vary depending on the parent's location and what type of scenario they want to provide for their child. For example, the Alternative Learning Center consists of just over 115 students for a student-to-teacher ratio of 3.9. This rate is one of the best in the area, allowing young ones to access better education opportunities in small and focused classes.

Larger choices include Allison Elementary, with nearly 545 students with a 14.1:1 student-to-teacher ratio. This rate is a little higher than options like Austin Discovery School, with 543 students and an 11.6:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Austin also has Montessori options, such as Magnolia Montessori For All, with 332 students with a 15.2:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Montessori education allows a child to explore their learning in self-directed classes watched over by teachers and assistants.

Private Schools in Austin, TX 

Parents who do want a more elite level of education may choose a private school. Classes in these schools are small, attendance is limited to those who want to come, and teachers are carefully selected to be among the top in their field. Private schools typically have high graduation rates, substantial success levels among graduating seniors, and other benefits that make them worth an investment.

For instance, the Abacus School Of Austin on Avery Ranch Boulevard is a pre-school to kindergarten private school that provides hands-on education that helps students prepare for elementary school demands. Programs focus on teaching children basic literacy and math skills, and benefits include an on-site pool where children can relax from the Texas heat.

And Aesa Prep Academy on Canonade serves K-12 classes. It includes grades with small numbers of students, intensive learning environments, a handful of extracurricular activities – like intramural sports – and a college-style environment that helps children advance in various ways. Located in a rural part of Austin, students get a comfortable and relaxing place to learn when they attend.

Christian Schools

Studies have found that Christian schools provide many benefits for young students, including a lower rate of drug abuse, a higher level of personal satisfaction, less depression, and a more robust grounding in spiritual life. Those families in Austin who want these benefits and want their child to be a religious and spiritual person – may want to consider a Christian school for their child.

Christian schools in Austin include Hyde Park Baptist High School, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Austin, and St. Michael's Catholic Academy. These schools are dotted throughout the city and are associated with the church that shares their name. Students who attend these churches are welcome to join the student body, though the school may take those outside of the church at times.

Often, these schools also include various types of extracurricular activities, such as competitive sports. These schools' private nature usually allows them to recruit elite talent, making them a good choice for serious athletes. For example, Texas football players who want to entice recruits often attend Christian schools as a way of competing at a higher level.

Catholic Schools in Austin 

A large Catholic community in Austin guarantees that schools like San Juan Diego Catholic High School are usually filled with many students. Those who attend this type of school receive regular Catholic teachings and volunteer in their community, everyday activity for many Austin students who want to stand out when applying for college.

Boarding Schools 

Although boarding schools may seem like an excellent threat to many parents due to various movies and television shows, boarding schools provide a higher education level than many options. These schools require the students to stay at them full time, creating a college-style atmosphere enhanced by more intense courses, challenging athletics, and intelligent discourse.

And many of the best boarding schools in Austin integrate various programs and other types of activities that help make it easier for a student to succeed. For instance, San Marcos Academy provides a K-12 learning environment that features small classes, an engaged student body, and trained teachers to handle this unique environment. With a large and expansive outdoor campus, this school provides a very college-style atmosphere that is perfect for many students.

Before attending one of these schools, it is often a good idea for parents to gauge how well their child would do separated from them. Many thrive away from home and are happy to be there, but others may struggle to feel comfortable. As a result, it is crucial to talk to a counselor before attending to get an insight into a child's needs and whether they are met with a boarding school.

Summer Schools

Summer school may not be something many children enjoy, but it can provide many benefits for many students. Often, Austin's school districts have classes during the summer, especially in the Independent School District. These programs are available in any school within the district and allow students to learn and relax a little from the intense heat common in Texas during the summer.

For instance, June's learning sessions are common in many elementary schools and between grades 5-8. These include the Reading and Math Enrichment Program, classes that enhance education by allowing students struggling with these concepts to learn at their pace. Or students who want a leg-up for competitive learning environments may also choose to attend this program.

High school students can choose to attend the DELTA or the Diversified Education Through Leadership, Technology and Academics program. During these classes, Austin students can focus on Algebra, Geometry, Chemistry, Earth Science, Space Science, Physics, and more. These classes are available for both seniors and rising seniors or those who plan on attending college.

Austin schools provide students with the kind of in-depth education needed to become a successful adult. Make sure to discuss each of these options with a student before making a choice. Doing so often makes it simpler to find a better option. Remember – high-performance classes and schools are typically only necessary if a student has the drive and ability to handle their unique needs.

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