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Top education towns 2011: Median home prices $600,000-$799,999

Location, location, location: Homes in these cities aren't cheap, but they offer a wonderful lifestyle and top-flight schools.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Piedmont, CA

Educational quality index: 87.96
Median home value: $730,620
Population: 10,596

A suburban oasis surrounded by Oakland, tiny Piedmont has received "Best Place to Live" recognition from both CNN Money and Forbes. Long a Mecca for Bay Area parents seeking excellent schools without entering a lottery (required for enrollment in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland school districts), Piedmont is a little town with famously high performing schools. Piedmont Middle School boasts teachers with an average 15 years experience, a chess club, film club, and athletics that include rock climbing and kayaking on the Bay.

Piedmont High School is a Blue Ribbon School, a California Distinguished School, and the host of a bizarre Bird-Calling Contest that often wings its winner to a guest slot on Late Night with David Lettermen. The Scottish-themed school calls its yearbook the "Clan-O-Log," and its mascot is a tartan-kilted Highlander, but the school has moved beyond its European traditions, offering Mandarin to a student body that is now 22 percent Asian. An impressive 98 percent of the student body attends four-year colleges and universities, over one-third to the University of California system, and many others to Ivy Leagues.

All this success, wrapped in a mild climate, just minutes away from the distracting pleasures of San Francisco, makes Piedmont a natural choice for families that can afford it.

Learn more about schools in Piedmont, CA.