More bang for your buck

(Illustrations by Serge Bloch)
By Matt Carroll
Globe Staff / September 5, 2009

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When families are choosing where to live, they typically ask two questions before all others. Are the schools good? Can we afford a home there? We crunched some numbers taking both questions into consideration. The results are not perfect, but they are useful in seeing which towns not only have terrific schools, but relatively affordable homes. You might expect to see Concord and Lexington high on a best schools list. But maybe not Foxborough Regional or Ayer. And Boxborough tied with Brookline? With our numbers it makes sense.

How we did our chart

We took a number of factors and ranked them, from 4 to 1. For instance, high MCAS scores earned 4 points. But high home prices were a negative and tallied only a 1. We added the scores up and, as we learned in freshman French, voila! The results speak for themselves.

The factors we used were:

MCAS scores, for 10th and 4th grades: We added the percent of test takers who finished in the advanced group for three 10th grade tests and two 4th grade tests.

Teacher-pupil ratios.

Diversity: School districts more diverse than the state average garnered 1 point, less diverse no points.

Average assessed values for single-family homes: For regionals and charters, the average is for all towns in the district.

Pts.: Are the points given for each factor, from a high of 4 to a low of 1.

(Districts were not included if any data was missing.)

E-mail Matt Carroll at

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Correction: Because of a reporting error, a chart examining schools and home prices in Massachusetts in Saturday's 'g' section carried an incorrect score for the Tyngsborough school district. The correct score for 10th-grade MCAS is 99; the total score is 12.