Irvine addresses served by Tustin and Santa Ana schools

Note by zovall: This post is written by an IHB regular, Cubic Zirconia. Her writing has been featured on IHB in the past. She has put together some information regarding what school districts (there are multiple!) serve the city of Irvine and some helpful links. We'd love to hear your comments on the schools as well as her post.

Hello IHB readers,

This is Cubic Zirconia.

I was introduced to IHB in 2008 during my house hunting days. The market was going through a major correction, and nobody knew where the bottom was. MLS listings for short sales would generate interest with a teaser price that wouldn’t be approved by the bank and equity sales would list at an exorbitant price, still in denial that the market was under correction. That was not all, MLS listings would be full of misinformation, like an incorrect school district, the wrong amount of HOA dues, and very vague contact information if it was a short sale. Living outside Irvine and finding a house in Irvine wouldn’t have been easy for us, if not for IHB posts, then written by Irvine Renter. From someone who would religiously read Irvine Renter’s posts every morning to writing a post on IHB, it’s been a huge transition!

The great California sun shines on all of Orange County, but many prefer to buy in Irvine more than other places for two reasons – safety and schools. The public school system is one of the best in Irvine, with test scores higher than the state average, and almost every school with a perfect ten API ranking and Great school rating based on performance (

It is natural to assume that the premium you pay for a house in Irvine will assure a spot in an Irvine school, served by the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD). Your Realtor probably didn’t tell you, and the seller’s Realtor boldly quoted an Irvine school in the MLS listing page, but it’s not so. There are some parts of Irvine that are served by schools with a physical Irvine address, falling under Tustin Unified School District. They are usually referred as the “other side of Culver” with Culver serving as the boundary line. Some even fall under the Santa Ana School District.

Here is the list of schools that fall under Tustin Unified School District, but serve North Park, West Irvine and other western/northern areas of Irvine. You will notice that even though these schools fall under Tustin Unified School District, they have the API ranks and scores comparable to any Irvine school. All of them have special education programs, GATE programs and afterschool programs as well as CDC. They have new and spacious school buildings, well planned and laid out. The teacher credentials and experience are also on par with Irvine schools.

1. Myford Elementary (K- 5)

Address: 3181 Trevino Dr., Irvine CA 92602

API rank 10, and API score of 951 for 2011.

Serves: West Irvine and some other parts of Irvine

For more information:

2. Hicks Canyon Elementary (K-5)

Address: 3817 Viewpark, Irvine CA 92602

API rank 10, and API Score of 942 for 2011.

Serves: North Park and some other parts of Irvine

For more information:

3. Orchard Hills (Middle School 5-7 for 2011, K-8 planned)

Address: 11555 Culver Dr, Irvine CA 92602

API rank not available (new school), API score of 952 for 2011.

Serves: North Park and some other parts of Irvine

For more information:

4. Pioneer Middle School (6-8)

Address: 2700 Pioneer Rd, Tustin CA 92782

(This was the primary Middle School before Orchard Hills opened)

API rank 10, API Score of 939 for 2011.

Serves: Irvine falling under Tustin Unified School District and parts of Tustin

For more information:

5. Arnold Beckman High School (9-12)

Address: 3588 Bryan Ave, Irvine CA 92602

API rank 10, API score of 866 for 2011.

Serves: Irvine falling under Tustin Unified School District and parts of Tustin

For more information:

SAT Scores for 2011: Critical Reading 548 Math 588 Writing 571

In addition to these schools, there are also two magnet schools in TUSD.

1. Tustin Memorial Academy (K-5)

Address: 12712 Browning Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705

API Rank 10, API Score 962

2. Columbus Tustin Middle School

Address: 17952 Beneta Way, Tustin CA 92780

API Rank 7, API Score 819

A personal note about the magnet schools: Compared to the other schools that serve the area, I found that the two magnet schools fell short in terms of building, planning and parking. The API Scores for the elementary school are in the close range for both the magnet and the regular schools. However, when it comes to Middle Schools, Pioneer and Orchard Hills fare better than the magnet school. Pioneer Middle School was the #1 Middle School in OC in 2010. Also, the schools are further into Tustin, increasing the driving distance for Irvine homes. In my opinion, they are not worth the extra drive. All of the elementary schools in TUSD accepting Irvine kids are gated, with a very controlled exit system at dismissal. I can’t think of the advantage of the magnet schools over the non-magnet schools when it comes to TUSD.

So next time, when you look at a property, no matter what the MLS says, you can always check the school for any given address here:

For those under Tustin Unified School District:

Map of the area served by TUSD:

TUSD Contact Information: 300 South C Street Tustin, CA 92780 • (714) 730-7301

For those under Irvine Unified School District:

Map of the area served by IUSD:

IUSD Contact Information: 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine CA 92604 • (949)936-5000

The story is a little different when looking at Irvine addresses which are served by the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD).

Condos at The Plaza, Central Park West, The Marquee, The Metropolitan and some apartment buildings near the Airport area fall under SAUSD. Here's a glimpse at the portion of Irvine that is served by SAUSD:

To check if an address falls under Santa Ana School District :

Full Map of the area served by SAUSD:

SUSD Contact Information: 1601 East Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana 92701-6322 • (714)558-5501

The Santa Ana schools that serve Irvine are:

1. James Monroe Elementary School (K-6)

Address: 471 East Central Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92707

API Rank 6, API Score 839

2. Douglas MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School (6-8)

Address: 600 West Alton Ave, Santa Ana CA 92702

API Rank 8, API Score 849

3. Century High School (9-12)

Address: 1401 South Grand Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705

API Rank 1, API Score 615

The Santa Ana schools are no match to Irvine schools in the test stats. Not only that, the parent and Great Schools performance reviews also fall short. The teacher credentials and experience meet or exceed the state average, but the API leaves a lot to be desired.

Like I said before, often there is more than meets the eye, or in this case, more than the MLS states. Since one of the reasons to move to Irvine is to take advantage of the great public schools in the area, it’s good to tread with caution and see if the property you are putting an offer on falls under the school district you assumed it is in.

Was this information useful?

Are there any specific School District related topics that you would like to read on IHB?

Reports and analysis about each school in detail?

The review of special programs offered?

A post about Irvine Schools (IUSD)?

Please let us know!

12 thoughts on “Irvine addresses served by Tustin and Santa Ana schools

  1. Richard

    That was informative but not in depth.

    Tustin schools are like little prisons. the schools appear as cell blocks. running and playing are discouraged. student to teacher ratio is about 33 to 1. advertisements comes home in report cards. requests for funds never ceases.
    and that is just the elementary school that my two youngest attend.
    my oldest went through pioneer middle school and beckman.
    pioneer was a wonderful school. very good teachers and an excellent music department. the only real drawback is it’s location. it is on a cul-de-sac, up a small hill, with no parking to speak of. we are irvine residents and my son biked over and each day i wondered if he would cross two very busy intersections safely. (he did.)
    beckman is a passable school. they have some good and some bad things. again, not enough parking, really. still run like a prison. (as an adult, would any of us want to work behind a gated and locked facility?) the teachers were, during my son’s four years there, remarkably mixed. some very good. some horrible. they play their football games at tustin high school, which is another parking nightmare. and, again, they always need a bit of money or are looking for local businesses to ‘advertise’. also, again, the student to teacher ratio, at the time, was about 30 to 1. not easy for any teacher to reach all of her students.
    now, are they bad schools? no. not really. most teachers and administrators want to do the best job they can. i believe that. i just don’t think they are given much of an opportunity. the system is broken. but that’s a different rant.


    1. irvine_home_owner

      Funny… but I actually prefer the gated aspect of an elementary school.

      Many of the Irvine elementary schools are “open campus” and while that’s nice for a high school, for 5 year olds to 11 year olds, having the area enclosed seems safer to me.

      And if your children are in the on-campus after school care… it’s peace of mind to know they won’t just wander off to anywhere because there is no supervision once the bell rings.

      1. Cubic Zirconia

        Thank you IHO. I have the same concern as well- about curious minds wandering off the campus.

    2. Cubic Zirconia

      Thank you for your comment Richard. The goal was to give an overview of the other two school districts that serve Irvine.

      From my own experience in two TUSD elementary schools and Pioneer Middle school, I will agree about the request for funds never ceasing. This year we had to pay a suggested $160 for Kindergarten PTO in addition to the other requests that they have throughout the year. Also, we have to buy our supplies, which was something new for us. The school that we moved from bought the supplies to the kids.

      Prison cells? 🙂
      As an architect, and as a mother, I think the gate is the best thing about the school! It gives me peace of mind that someone won’t storm in with a gun in hand. Or curious children won’t walk out of the school when the teachers aren’t paying attention.

      Parking in Pioneer IS a nightmare, and so is Peter Canyon. Even the park in between doesn’t have enough spots to park and walk.

      Yes, there is good, there is bad. But IMO, compared to other schools in the state, not bad!

  2. Anonymous

    For the Irvine school locator:
    1. Go to
    2. Select Enrollment from the left hand side
    3. Pick “Assigned Schools” from the menu that pops up

  3. Brian

    I love the way the IHB is expanding its focus! This was a great and exceptionally valid idea to write about!
    As a side note, I don’t personally believe that Irvine schools themselves are solely the reason that they are so much better than others, instead greater parental involvement makes a very significant difference.

    1. Anonymous

      First story:
      Went to Uni open house, Biology teacher (first year at Uni, previously taught in a different school district), said she gave the first assignment of the year and was pleasantly surprised that every single student turned it in complete and on time. – that was a first for her. Then she mentioned she needed some individual student whiteboards, and a parent on the spot volunteered to buy them.

      Second story: Irvine elementary school principal told me when he goes to conferences and the principals from other districts talk about problems at their schools, he has to make an effort to stay silent, otherwise the other principals get upset. Because his occasional problem is so trivial compared to what they face all the time.

      Pretty much sums up what Irvine schools are like.

    2. Cubic Zirconia

      Thank you Brian! You are right, schools alone won’t cut it, it takes the student initiative and parental involvement too.

      1. Chuck Ponzi

        I believe parental involvement should have its limits as well. Just read about “tiger moms” and you’ll get a flavor for my thinking. American schools in general promote free, creative thinking over rote memorization. The latter performing better than the former in standardized tests, which of course, don’t tell much about how your child will learn/compete in that environment.

        It is clear to me that the best way to prepare your children is to try out your area before buying, while asking others for their advice. Renting is a great way to get to know an area before committing long-term.


  4. brianguy

    “Serves: North Park and some other parts of Irvine
    For more information:

    “other” parts being Orchard Hills, I suspect.

    I live 1/4 mi from OH school. despite that, never knew exactly where it was, til one day I decided to go explore the few neighborhood streets on my bike that I’d never driven down. it’s basically around the corner / 2 blocks from Northwood HS if people have an idea where that is.

    quite nice for a middle school, unbelievable for an elementary, which it apparently will be once the future housing development (West Grove) gets built, if not sooner. Irvine Co. mothballed that a couple of years ago, which is why the “soft” opening for that school I’d suspect. the campus is a little small but no smaller than most Irvine primary schools, but the new facilities and nice layout makes it seem really nice for its size. being down the street from the HS helps from a parenting standpoint I’d think. I used to live across the street from Tustin Ranch Elementary before this (which apparently doesn’t serve Irvine despite being just on the other side of the T/I border). seems pretty decent but that place really does look like a prison up close. the other one near me is Peters Elementary which also seems nice from my limited view.

    don’t have kids but if I did I’d most likely want them to have access to the “good” schools in the area, so thanks for posting. I think a lot of us knew most of it, but it’s still good to know.

    by the way, West Irvine is also TUSD. when I looked into it, the reference I found said this means Myford Elementary.

  5. Jenn

    Wow, I knew about TUSD, but had no idea parts of Irvine were feeding into Santa Ana.

    Oddly enough, I lived in the Irvine High School area when I attended school, yet transferred to Century HS in Santa Ana for athletic reasons.

    Santa Ana schools are nearly unacceptable. I had many classes where my teachers let me do next to no work, because I was one of the few in the class that even spoke english.

    I always tell people to check district lines, and this is why. I would be frustrated with TUSD, but that is NOTHING compared to some residences feeding into Santa Ana schools.

Comments are closed.