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Top education towns 2011:
Median home prices $800,000 or more

Clustered on the East and West Coasts, these cities offer wonderful public schools and plenty of other attractions, but be prepared for the sticker shock of million-dollar homes.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Palo Alto, CA

Educational quality score: 89.23
Median home value: $1,080,980
Population: 59,974

Being a university town has its perks, especially when the university is Stanford. With a diverse college culture and steady economic base, there are plenty of good reasons why Palo Alto is birthplace to Silicon Valley mega-success stories Google and Facebook. (High-tech star-gazing in Palo Alto? Keep on the lookout for Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.) For starters, nearly half the population holds advanced degrees. Palo Alto has a reputation for hatching the next big thing — and for educating the future brain trust to create it.

That may be why the 11,600 students who attend Palo Alto's public schools have some pretty lofty standards. Seven out of every 10 Palo Alto High School students take Advanced Placement courses, and almost all of them pass. U.S. News & World Report ranked not one, but two Palo Alto high schools, in its most recent list of America's Best High Schools: Henry M. Gunn High School was number 67; Palo Alto High School number 83.

Living in a brain trust breeding ground doesn't come cheap, of course. One Palo Alto neighborhood ranked 73rd in the U.S.'s 100 priciest zip codes, while two others were in the top 200, according to Forbes. With average home prices in 2010 exceeding $1.4 million, Coldwell Banker named Palo Alto the second most expensive college town in America, right behind Newport Beach, California.

Learn more about schools in Palo Alto, CA.

Photo credit: jeffpearce

Comments from readers

"As a proud parent of 2 West School Elementary students, I know our teachers and administrators are tops and that my children are getting a fabulous public school education. Way to go NC!"