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District gains new national rankings from Niche results


PAUSD regained the title of the top district in the state based on updated rankings from Niche. The district was also number one in the nation for all school districts with a student body of over 7,000. Gunn and Paly ranked first and sixth in the state respectively, with both schools in the Top 50 in the nation. Niche is a platform with a database on school districts around the country, helping students and families make enrollment decisions.

According to Niche’s website, the company takes a variety of factors into account when ranking districts or schools. The company says Niche’s data scientists and user researchers go through the process of gathering data and reviews, analysis and user insights to produce a letter grade for different areas such as diversity, clubs and activities and teachers. 

Superintendent Don Austin said PAUSD has never ranked as the number 1 district in the state during his tenure as superintendent. He also said he thinks Niche rankings are highly-regarded across the nation because they are the first to show up when families do online searches for school rankings.

“They become the de facto source for community information about schools, so our rankings will be seen by a lot of people,” Austin said. “However, colleges and future employers are already aware of the prestige of Palo Alto schools and understand this is not a new trend.”

Austin also said the rankings are not used for decision-making purposes, but they are a direct reflection of student success and district accomplishments. Austin also said examining Niche rankings help guide areas of future growth. 

“I love the fact that our district has a lot of opportunities to improve, especially in areas such as inclusion, mental health and closing the achievement gap,” Austin said. “(Understandably,) these rankings aren’t perfect, and they will never be without faults or shortcomings. They are, however, exceptional.”

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