The Best-Rated WRDSB Elementary Schools in Kitchener-Waterloo
Hello, and welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. For families (or future families) looking to buy a home in Kitchener-Waterloo, knowing about the educational opportunities here can be quite important.
This month, we’re looking at the 14 top-ranked elementary schools throughout Kitchener-Waterloo (7 from each school board) and writing individual profiles on each of them.
This first group of 7 (and Canadians, particularly Canadian art aficianados, do love a good Group of Seven) consists of schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB); in a couple weeks, we will write profiles on the top 7 schools in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB).
As for this article, it will simply provide a broader overview of the 7 best-rated WRDSB elementary schools.
We’ll start with the current top-rated school and working our way down through to number 7 (for the record, there are 107 elementary schools in the WRDSB, though a number of those are in Cambridge and the surrounding Townships).
But first, a note on the rankings themselves: we’re using the figures determined by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian organization that (among other things) grades and ranks elementary and secondary schools in Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta every year.
For elementary school, these ratings stem from each school’s performance on the Grade 3 and Grade 6 Testing conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.
The tests measure performance in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics; the Fraser Institute assigns each school a rating out of 10 based on their overall performance.
These rankings, naturally, can change each year, and are influenced by a variety of factors. You can learn more about each school’s performance over time in their individual profiles (linked at the end of each overview), or on the Fraser Institute’s website.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the top schools!
1. Laurelwood Public School (Waterloo)
Laurelwood P.S. is currently the #1-ranked elementary school in Kitchener-Waterloo. Indeed, it is the highest-ranked school in both the entire WRDSB and the entire WCDSB, and it has held this honour in years past, as well.
It boasts an incredibly high score of 9.2/10, and it regularly places in the top 50 throughout Ontario. Laurelwood P.S is located in Laurelwood, one of Waterloo’s most popular neighbourhoods, in northwest Waterloo. It’s a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school with around 550 students.
Laurelwood offers French Immersion, and it features an outdoor learning circle and a nearby woodlot. Laurelwood also has plenty of extracurricular opportunities for students, ranging from athletics to the arts. It’s a school that shines academically, yes, but it’s so much more, too.
Read more about Laurelwood P.S here.
2. Abraham Erb Public School (Waterloo)
Abraham Erb P.S. shares a few things in common with Laurelwood P.S.: they both have scores over 9/10 (Abraham Erb’s is 9 exactly); they both offer French Immersion; and they’re both located in the Waterloo neighbourhood of Laurelwood (the presence of several excellent schools is part of why it’s such a popular neighbourhood).
Abraham Erb P.S. is named after the man considered to be Waterloo’s founder; he was also an early advocate in providing an education to all children in the area, regardless of economic status. Abraham Erb P.S.
is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 school – for Grades 7 and 8, students will move on to Vista Hills (which is, incidentally, the third highest-ranked school in Kitchener-Waterloo). Abraham Erb ranks second by a healthy margin, and perhaps even more impressively, it’s shown steady improvement over the past few years.
Read more about Abraham Erb P.S. here.
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3. Vista Hills Public School (Waterloo)
Vista Hills P.S. is one of the newest schools in the WRDSB. It opened in September of 2016, making it the newest school in the City of Waterloo specifically. It’s located in the extreme west of Waterloo (quite close to the border with the Township of Wilmot).
Its name is a reference to the views provided from its elevated terrain. Vista Hills is a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school; it presently has around 640 students. Like several of the top-ranked schools in the WRDSB, it offers French Immersion.
What truly sets Vista Hills P.S. apart is its impressive, innovative structural design. Both visually and conceptually, Vista Hills is an architectural wonder. Classrooms and common areas were planned in such a way as to encourage collaboration and community, as well as enabling educators to make use of the latest technologies.
Its current score of 8.5/10 seems to suggest that their forward-thinking plans are paying off. Read more about Vista Hills P.S. here.
4. Lackner Woods Public School (Kitchener)
The fourth-highest ranked school is the first representative from Kitchener, and it’s a fantastic school (current score: 8.1/10). Lackner Woods P.S. is located in eastern Kitchener, north of Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort. The fact that Lackner Woods P.S.
opened in 2001 but is far from one of the newest schools in the region is a testament to Kitchener-Waterloo’s rapid growth; indeed, the area around Lackner Woods developed into a popular residential zone around the time the school opened.
Two things, though: Lackner Woods is still a very modern school, and the area around it is still replete with expanses of untapped nature. Lackner Woods serves Kindergarten to Grade 6 students; for Grades 7 and 8, students will either attend Sunnyside P.S.
or Chicopee Hills P.S. (another school on our list). Lackner Woods’ current student population is just over 400. Distinctive features, aside from nearby natural wonders like the eponymous woods and the Grand River, include its emphasis on community and its active athletics program.
Read more about Lackner Woods P.S. here.
5. Millen Woods Public School (Waterloo)
Millen Woods P.S. is located in northeast Waterloo, in the peaceful neighbourhood of Eastbridge. Having opened in 2011, it’s yet another very new school. It was the newest school in Waterloo for several years, until Vista Hills recently took that title.
Millen Woods has the smallest student population on our list so far: around 370 students, between Kindergarten and Grade 6. For Grades 7 and 8, Millen Woods students are zoned for Lester B. Pearson (one of Kitchener’s three schools named after former Prime Ministers), which is very nearby.
Millen Woods excels in both the natural and the technological: on the one hand, the school borders a large, wooded area; it has commissioned Earthscapes to design a natural playground; and it has won a Gold EcoSchool award.
On the other, Millen Woods’ has wireless access throughout the school; classrooms are equipped with the latest technology (including Google Classroom); and Chromebooks are integrated into various learning environments. Millen Woods scored 8/10 this year, placing it securely in fifth out of WRDSB elementary schools.
Read more about Millen Woods P.S. here.
6. Mary Johnston Public School (Waterloo)
Mary Johnston P.S. is the second school on this list named after a famous local that had a major impact on education in the region; however, in this case, the famous local is far more contemporary.
Mary Johnston P.S. gets its name from the first female Principal in the Waterloo Region, who did much for the school board and the community over the course of her long career, and beyond. Mary Johnston P.S.
is located in western Waterloo, in the upscale Upper Beechwood neighbourhood. It is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 school; students are zoned for Centennial Public School for Grades 7 and 8. Mary Johnston P.S.
offers French Immersion, and it is a major advocate of providing a safe environment for its students. The school has a Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools team, and it operates on a ‘balanced school day’ schedule, which includes two nutritional/activity breaks.
Mary Johnston’s most recent score was 7.4/10 –well above the provincial average of 6/10. Read more about Mary Johnston P.S. here.
7. Chicopee Hills Public School (Kitchener)
Technically, Chicopee Hills P.S. is as-yet unrated and unranked by the Fraser Institute, so its ranking here is based more on promise and potential than past performance. Indeed, Chicopee Hills is, at present, one of the two newest schools in the WRDSB: it just opened in September of 2017.
It is a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school, and its current student population is around 570. Chicopee Hills features state-of-the-art facilities, which include innovative uses of technology and an impressive double gym, and it is close to some of Kitchener-Waterloo’s finest outdoor attractions.
It’s located in eastern Kitchener, quite close to the Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort (as its name might suggest). Read more about Chicopee Hills P.S. here.
Education is one of the many sectors that Kitchener-Waterloo excels in, and these seven schools epitomize the region’s emphasis on learning and innovation.
But although these are the current standings according to the EQAO results and the Fraser Institute’s assessments, the truth is that schools throughout the region offer quality education: the WRDSB itself is driven to innovate (as initiatives like the Chromebook Program attest).
These are seven great schools, but they’re far from the only great schools.
Written by Will Kummer