Moving to Cedar Rapids or the surrounding area? Not sure where to start on your journey for the best school district? With many great choices, the search can be overwhelming. As an Iowa native, I know all about the top 3 schools in Cedar Rapids IA. I will give a quick overview of each district and a little about the location, buildings, and academics. Switching school districts is a big decision, but I hope this insight will ease the process.
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Cedar Rapids School District
Cedar Rapids School District is the largest school district in Cedar Rapids IA. This district was founded in 1972 after the four township high schools (and the schools that fed into them) merged to create this large district. Along with K-12 education, this district includes a preschool, alternative kindergarten, and other nontraditional education options.
Location is arguably one of the most important factors when choosing a school district. The Cedar Rapids School District is located in the heart of the City of Five Seasons. This district has four high schools, six middle schools, and twenty-one elementary schools sprinkled throughout the city, so there is sure to be one close to your new location. In this district, there is no strict cut-off for where you can attend school versus where you live so open enrollment is an option.
Cedar Rapids School District is the second-largest district in the state. The large and growing student population has resulted in the buildings being expanded to accommodate for this. Instead of building new elementary schools, this district is implementing a three-tier plan to modify all the buildings. Most of the buildings in this district are dated, however, they are in the process of being renovated to accommodate the growing student population.
As far as academics go, this school district has an average of 62% of students proficient in mathematics and 67% of students proficient in reading. The overall graduation rate from the high schools (Jefferson, Washington, Kennedy, and Metro) is 72% with 28.8% of the students indicating college readiness by taking AP exams and scoring three or higher. They also offer band and orchestra to students ranging from freshmen to seniors. They offer French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish as world language education options. With a combination of these schools, the academic opportunities are truly exclusive to this district.
College Community School District
Founded in 1954, this district gets its name from the unique layout of the schools. The schools are all within walking distance on a four-block grid located just southwest of Cedar Rapids. Because of this, many elements of the schools are intertwined, like the bus system. This district divides grades into different ways for their schools. The high school contains 10th, 11th, and 12th graders while the middle school features 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. There is also an intermediate school that has 5th and 6th graders separate from the elementary schools.
Located in the southwest part of Cedar Rapids, this district contains a total of nine schools. This includes one high school, one middle school, one intermediate school, and six elementary schools. Because of their location, smaller towns like Ely, Swisher, Fairfax, and Walford are all included in this district, along with southwest Cedar Rapids. If you are living somewhere outside of the city, this would be the best school district for you.
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The high school in this district was recently redone and expanded two years ago, and they plan for more construction. They also announced that they are building a new school for the 5th and 6th graders. Two of the nine buildings were built in the past seven years, and there have been multiple renovations since. Much like the Cedar Rapids district, the buildings are a couple of decades old but are in the process of updates.
In this district, 64% of students are proficient in mathematics and 68% proficient in reading. The graduation rate is much higher than the national average, sitting at 93% of students. They also offer band and choir classes for all students, starting at 5th grade. Spanish and German are offered for languages, and out-of-classroom opportunities, such as Iowa BIG are offered as well. This district also used standards-based grading, which was adopted in 2017 to help bring centralized learning goals to students. Standards-based grading is a big change from the regular grading system, so it is worth researching more before deciding on a district.
Linn Mar School District
Linn Mar School District, composed of 12 schools total, was founded in 1948. This includes seven elementary schools, two intermediate schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Much like the College Community district, this district has its own building for 5th and 6th graders in the intermediate school. However, the middle school has the 7th and 8th graders, and the high school is the traditional 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
This district is located in the northeastern part of Cedar Rapids near surrounding cities like Marion. Their boundaries also include more rural towns outside of northern Cedar Rapids and near Robins. Their name is due to the district being partly in Linn county and partly in the city of Marion. If you are looking to be closer to the northern edge of the city or are wanting a smaller district while living in Cedar Rapids, this would be the best district. They also have a home address search to see which schools your child would attend.
This district is the oldest of the three mentioned, but almost all of its buildings are newly renovated or in the process of renovation. Since the addition of the intermediate schools, a lot of the grades have been shuffled around to different buildings. The good news is that they have finally landed on where each grade is being taught and there probably won’t be any more switching buildings for a while. They also have an amazing new aquatics facility where they offer a lap swim for adults in the community.
Linn Mar is well-known by people in the Cedar Rapids area for its academics. The proficiency rate for students in mathematics is 82% and 81% for reading. In addition to this, the graduation rate is 96%, making this the highest rate of all the school districts in Cedar Rapids IA. They offer a program called REACH, which features many clubs, athletics, and fine arts for students. Linn Mar offers lots of opportunities to expand their learning outside of the classroom as well. Overall, this school is hands-down the best in terms of academics.
To conclude, all of the above districts are great options for prospective students. It mostly boils down to if you want to live in Cedar Rapids versus the surrounding areas and if you are looking for a larger district versus a smaller one. Still, debating moving to Iowa and making the switch? Check out our post about why Iowa is a nice place to live!