How We Rate: In the years that we’ve rated Cleveland’s suburbs, we’ve evaluated three major factors: safety, education and housing. We’ve added other qualities that make a suburb desirable such as public services, diversity and walkability. Scores are assigned to each suburb for every category used in the rankings. Those scores are based on the year’s available numbers. We then add up the category scores, weighting certain categories more than others. Safety and education, for example, are given more weight than property taxes, which is given more weight than environmental infractions. The Top 20 are those suburbs with the highest combined scores — in other words, the suburbs that perform best in all of the categories combined.
How We Did It: Overall rankings are determined using raw data that is converted into points calculated from the average in each category. Rankings for safety and education are awarded based on the total scores in each category.
Safety Sources: Statistics for the calendar year 2021 are provided by each suburb. Crimes per 1,000 in Richfield Village are based on the combined populations of Richfield Village and Richfield Township, since the Richfield Village police patrol both and do not keep separate village stats.
Education Sources: Individual school districts and the Ohio Department of Education 2020-2021 and 2018-2019 School Report Card district data files.
The state’s 26 possible indicators for student performance are based on standardized tests, a gifted indicator that measures how gifted students are performing, a chronic absenteeism improvement indicator measuring the number of students who are chronically absent (missing at least 10% of the school year) as well as schools’ efforts to reduce that number, and an end-of-course improvement indicator measuring the performance and improvement on retaken end-of-course tests. Each school’s possible indicators vary depending on which tests its students take. The state’s Performance Index rewards the performance of every student, not just those who score “proficient” or higher. The scores range from 0 to 120, with 100 being the goal. The state tests students in reading and math every year from third through eighth grades. It also tests science in fifth and eighth grades. The state has transitioned from its Ohio Graduation Tests to end-of-course tests. Those include English I & II, math I & II, geometry, algebra, American history, American government and biology. In our rankings, the end-of-course tests are expressed as an average percentage of all students who scored at proficiency or above. The state’s value-added ranking measures the impact schools and teachers have on students’ academic progress rates from year to year or another period of time, using student achievement data. There are four value-added measure grades combined to get a Progress Component Grade: The state calculates this progress made for all students, and then for subgroups of gifted students, students with disabilities and students whose academic performance was in the lowest 20% of students statewide. Through 2019, state law stipulated that if any of these subgroup grades were lower than a B on an A-F scale, and the overall grade was still an A, then the overall grade would be demoted to a B to reflect this discrepancy. We calculated the students per full-time teacher ratio using the state-reported figures for enrollment and full-time teachers.
In line with legislative action allowing schools to forego certain state tests since the start of the pandemic, limited data is available. Therefore, we repurposed 2018-2019 state data regarding achievement scores, end-of-course tests, performance index scores and overall value-added rankings. For more detailed reports on local districts’ state report cards, visit ode.state.oh.us.
As a measure of college readiness, we asked school districts to provide the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes offered. In addition, we requested the percentage of seniors from the class of 2021 who took at least one of those classes during high school and who scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP test or a 4 or higher on at least one IB test during high school.
Median Home Sale Price Sources: The county auditors or fiscal officers’ offices provided figures for valid sales of single-family homes in 2011, 2016 and 2021.
Property Tax Sources: 2021 rates of taxation are from county auditors, treasurers or fiscal officers and the Ohio Department of Taxation. They include each community’s rollback and reduction for owner-occupied residential property for levies passed before November 2013.
Population, Poverty, Diversity & Owner-Occupied Housing Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. Diversity points are awarded based on the suburb’s percentage of minority residents (nonwhite, Hispanic or multiracial), with the most points given to those suburbs closest to a 50% balance.
Environmental Infractions Source: The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s database of reported polluted sites, which is continuously updated and includes reports of polluted sites that the EPA has not fully investigated.
Community Services: The mayor’s office of each suburb informed us which of the following services are available to all residents: tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, indoor or outdoor ice rinks, indoor swimming pools, outdoor swimming pools, public playgrounds, recreation centers, public skateboarding parks, senior services, youth services, free mulch, free leaf pickup, free garbage pickup and recycling programs.
Roads With Sidewalks: Each suburb provided information on the miles of roads and sidewalks. Percentage of roads with sidewalks was determined by dividing centerline miles of roads by half the miles of sidewalks (assuming sidewalks on both sides of the street) and converting to a percentage.
Alternative Commute And Commute Time To Work Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.