Ranking schools is kind of crazy. Depending on who you ask and what they think is important, a great school can get a terrible rating while a poor school gets a terrific score.

School ranking websites aren't much help, either.

I moved to Lake Charles in 2016, and my wife and I enrolled our kid in 4th grade at Henry Heights Elementary School. He went on to finish 5th grade as Henry Heights' Student of the Year this past May (#DadBrag), and he loved everything about his school. We liked it, too. It was very nice, with an attentive, friendly staff, excellent programs, and a generally great learning environment. However, according to its GreatSchools ranking that's based solely on standardized test scores, it only has an average rating of 5 out of 10. But based on Niche's more extensive criteria, it has a better score of B-. Then again, over on SchoolDigger, it only gets 2 stars out of 5, and they don't even bother telling you what data they consider important.

Trying to rank schools is madness, and all the conflicting scores make settling on the right choice for your family a difficult process.

Which is where talking to other parents comes in, along with people who have taught in the local school system. It's how my wife and I chose the school for our kid, because education cannot be easily quantified and calculated and jammed into a pie chart like the quarterly sales report of a widget factory. The best these ratings can do is give you a vague idea of what some data point might mean for your kid. If it even means anything at all.

And that’s not even going into trying to compare schools between states, which would be sort of like comparing apples to oranges if apples were square and made of olive loaf, and oranges were purple and tasted like codfish. Impossible, basically.

To make things even more confusing, Louisiana has adopted Common Core, which means our schools are now held to a higher national standard that non-Common Core states don’t have to worry about. So, while some of those other states get to more or less make up their own rules and then pat themselves on the back for jumping over however low they've set the bar for themselves, our teachers and students are still adapting to the new, tougher national standards. And that takes time.

Now, with all that in mind, here are the Top 10 Public Elementary Schools in Lake Charles, as ranked by GreatSchools.

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    1

    T. S. Cooley Elementary Magnet School

    Mission: We Strive to Foster a Love for Learning and Build a Strong Foundation for Lifelong Skills.
    Enrollment: 301
    Faculty Size: 21
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Colors: Purple & Gold
    Mascot: Tiger Cubs
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    2

    Prien Lake Elementary School

    Mission: To provide a quality education for ALL students.
    Enrollment: 662
    Faculty Size: 52
    Hours: 7:40 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
    Colors: Green & Yellow
    Mascot: Panthers

     

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    3

    A. A. Nelson Elementary School

    Mission: Building future leaders in a diverse, creative, and nurturing environment.
    Enrollment: 722
    Faculty Size: 56
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
    Colors: Blue & Gold
    Mascot: Cowboys
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    4

    M. J. Kaufman Elementary School

    Mission: Growing Leaders and Learners
    Enrollment: 456
    Faculty Size: 37
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
    Colors: Purple & Yellow
    Mascot: Bobcats
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    5

    Dolby Elementary School

    Mission: Learning and Leading for Life
    Enrollment: 417
    Faculty Size: 43
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
    Colors: Blue & White
    Mascot:
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    6

    Henry Heights Elementary School

    Mission: Promoting Responsibility, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence
    Enrollment: 384
    Faculty Size: 43
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Colors: Blue & Green
    Mascot: Huskies
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    7

    Barbe Elementary School

    Mission: To provide productive learning opportunities for all students.
    Enrollment: 344
    Faculty Size: 30
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Colors: Red, White & Blue
    Mascot: Patriots
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    8

    John F. Kennedy Elementary School

    Mission: John F. Kennedy Elementary school will prepare all students for academic success.
    Enrollment: 168
    Faculty Size: 20
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Colors: Blue & Gold
    Mascot: Cougars
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    9

    Oak Park Elementary School

    Mission: Where Leaders are Created
    Enrollment: 447
    Faculty Size: 40
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
    Colors: Blue & Gold
    Mascot: Eagles
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    10

    T. H. Watkins Elementary School

    Mission: Educate, Challenge and Inspire all students to be life-long learners.
    Enrollment: 263
    Faculty Size: 27
    Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Colors:
    Mascot: