How much difference is there to go to an 8 vs 10 rating school in California (SF Bay Area)?
If you're going off of scores like those from Greatschools.org, my understanding is that they're based entirely on standardized exam scores. Education is far more than standardized exam scores, so it may not give you the information you're looking for. Parents will have to make individual choices, and I'll tell you how I looked at school districts when I purchased a home a few weeks ago.Test scores are strongly correlated to demographics, so they don't necessarily speak to teaching quality. For example, schools that are over 75% Asian and are almost entirely middle to upper class often get 10s: Monta Vista High in Cupertino is the commonly cited one amongst my friends that grew up here. Other schools with 8s and 9s can be more racially and socially diverse and may have programs which the 10 schools are lacking (sports). One example is Menlo-Atherton High, which had a score of 8 the last time I checked: a section of the school comes from East Palo Alto, which is one of the poorest areas in the Bay. Whatever the score says, they have very nice arts facilities, and a set of Advanced Placement (AP) course offerings superior to some schools with higher scores. I would prefer my child go there rather than some of the higher ranked schools.One thing that I didn't come to understand until a few weeks ago is that many of the high schools around here are "Union" school districts: if your high school is lacking in certain courses, a child can go to a different high school to take those courses, and in some cases, they can attend a high school different from what your address would generally dictate, full time. So there's flexibility.My biggest fear is that my children won't have a peer group or will get bored in school: I wanted a sufficiently aggressive academic environment with enough racial mix, sports, arts, and other activities for them to explore.Anywhere 8 and up for elementary school was fine for me.For high school, my personal comparison for academics is the selection of AP courses. If there's enough demand for a full set of AP courses, then I'm reasonably confident that my children will be stimulated.The school district in which I bought a home is a little more Asian than I'd prefer, but it's also what I could afford. (In case it's not clear from my name or profile picture, I'm 100% ethnic Asian, but I don't believe that some aspects of Asian cultures are positive, and would prefer a racial mix.)If all that still bothers you, ignore the public schools and their scores and send your kids to Harker if you can afford it (currently $41.5k/year for high school). I've met some kids from there, and one was taking differential equations as a sophomore. Last I heard, none of the public schools offered that level of coursework, and many of the community colleges probably don't either.