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Top 10 cities to live and learn 2011

From an island retreat to mid-western hamlet, our top 10 cities may not resemble one another at first glance. But each offers residents a priceless amenity: extraordinary public schools.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Bedford, NH

Education quality score: 97.96
Median home value: $293,730
Population: 21,504

As Bedford has expanded to be considered commutable to Boston, this small town’s population has exploded from about 2,000 in the 1950s to more than 21,000 today. But don’t fret that it’s just a rest stop for disengaged commuters. Civic pride is high; Segway inventor Dean Kamen’s marvelous house is here; and Bedford School District is one of the town’s biggest employers.

Already a high-performing district (last year, 91 percent of students tested proficient or higher in reading; 86 percent tested at similar levels in math), Bedford recently got a major educational boost: its very own public high school. In 2010, the first senior class graduated from brand-new Bedford High School. For such a young school, the Bulldogs are already pulling down impressive numbers. In the 2009-2010 school year, they boasted 11 commended scholars, one presidential scholar, and two students recognized under the National Hispanic Recognition program of PSAT/NMSQT. In addition, Bedford High recently launched a partnership with a sister school in Denmark and began offering exchange opportunities to its students.

Learn more about schools in Bedford, NH.

Photo credit: NNECAPA

Comments from readers

"600-700 students is small. We have 1100+ in some K-5 St Johns, Fl Schools and still manage to be an A+ district."
"I am currently in High School in the Carroll school district, and I will say that the district is far behind when it comes to technology. They might have enough money to spend on computers and interactive whiteboards, but the teachers seem very uneducated for the most part. In the past couple of weeks there have been lots of network issues. Aside from the old computers, the computer programming classes teach old languages that are rarely used these days. Also, I should point out that students aren't allowed to use any electronic devices of their own, this includes a laptop to type a paper, e-book readers, and music players. I'm not sure if my expectations are too high, but I personally could be a lot more productive with a laptop at school, and I feel that the IT staff break more than they fix. It would be better to let students run some of the servers, like my friends do at other high schools."
"My only issue is that not one of these communities is a real CITY. Please change the name of your article to reflect the SUBURBAN nature of your choices (even 36K is not a city!). Perhaps the organization's name should be since you had to rule out many rural and urban schools. I would love to see a real assessment of great city schools."
"We have 3 children Southlake schools and the programs are wonderful. The parents are very involved and I don't know any who have a nanny. We love it here!"
"I can't speak for all, but I can tell you Manhattan Beach is not a small system. With a population of 36,000 and 5 elementary schools. The two elementary schools listed both have well over 600 students K-5."
"Responding to comment on small size of communities or schools listed. I can't speak for all, but I can say Manhattan Beach population is 36,000. NOT a small town. Pacific School has over 600 students K-5. Grandview has over 700 students K-5. Great schools and great kids overall!"
"I live near Southlake... and I work near Southlake. I know many who have worked in Southlake. The parents can't parent--they have nannies do it all for them. My suspicion is that the drop-out rate is probably hidden, or that it has to do with the generously high income of the parents, or both. But I'll tell you... those students sure are brats!"
"I notice all of these are very small systems...which probably means a limited number of problem kids. None of these are over a population of 25,000 people and so their school systems are very small."
"Where is the list???"