Keys School

2890 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 328-1711

(out of 10)

Private Grades K-8 176 students 8 students/teacher (CA avg is 21)

Test Scores by grade

About this school

Keys School is a private middle school in Palo Alto. 176 students go to Keys School and are mostly White, non-Hispanic; Asian; and Asian/Pacific Islander. The student to teacher ratio at Keys School is 8:1. David Starr Jordan Middle School is one of the nearest middle schools.

Extracurricular activities


  • Band
  • Ceramics sculpture
  • Chorus
  • Computer arts
  • Dance
  • Drawing painting
  • Orchestra
  • Photography
  • Theater drama
  • Video film production

Languages Taught

  • Mandarin
  • Spanish


  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Martial arts self defense
  • P.E. classes
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track
  • Volleyball
  • Yoga

Student Ethnicities

Ethnicity School District
White, non-Hispanic 60% %
Asian 32% %
Asian/Pacific Islander 28% %
Black, non-Hispanic 2% %
Multiracial 10% %
Hispanic 0.7% %
Native American or Native Alaskan 0% %
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0% %

Community ratings & reviews

  • (1 year ago)

    I went to Keys from K-8 and am now a freshman at Menlo High School. As much as I love Menlo Keys will always be where my heart belongs. The school is extremely inclusive and does a great job of preparing me for what life will be like as I get older. The school has taught me many valuable lessons that will carry me through High School and beyond.

  • (2 years ago)

    This used to be a good school. The last 3-4 years have been fraught with turmoil and poor overall management since the school's expansion. Many great teachers have left due to lack of support from the administration. The school really hasn't settled in since the expansion. There seems to be a disconnect between the administration and the teachers and unfortunately this affects the kids and families. The school's "whole child" philosophy has essentially become a marketing tool for prospective parents and not a reality anymore. The depth is just not there and there is too much teaching inconsistency from year to year. In addition the school pushes kids to be more independent more due to lack of resources rather than appropriate child development. Now that the Head of School AND Lower School Head are leaving the school (Spring 2013) I hope the school does some real soul searching and turns things around. I would not currently recommend especially the lower school due a host of problems.

  • (2 years ago)

    Since there have not been any posts since 2011 i thought it would benefit those looking to have an update. In 2011-2012 the school went through major transition. The school split into 2 sections lower and middle school that are about 1.5 miles apart now. This did change the culture of the school. There was a huge teacher turnover (7 out of 9 homeroom teachers). In the last 4 years the school has doubled in size. Now in Nov of 2012 the school has really settled in. The new teachers are wonderful. The project based learning and Singapore math are back on track. At the end of this year there will be a change in the head of School. It looks like things are really looking positive. Our 2 children who attend Keys are thriving and learning in a very supportive environment.

  • (3 years ago)

    We have two children at Keys and have been thrilled with our experience. The teachers are outstanding the parent community is warm and supportive and the school really lives its mission to focus on educating the whole child with a broad hands-on project-based curriculum. It is true that there has been teacher turnover in the last two years but all of the new teachers brought on board this year are exceptional. I think Keys may have suffered a few hiccups in its expansion to two campuses and two sections per grade but those issues seem to be resolved and the school community has recovered nicely this year. This is really a special place and we consider ourselves lucky to have our kids here.

  • (4 years ago)

    The teacher turnover at this school is a big problem. The lower school division head is problematic and in her short tenure has caused mayhem on the campus and teachers are leaving as quickly as they can. Too bad because the school has potential to be really great. Management needs a turnover big time

  • (4 years ago)

    Keys has a wonderful student body involved parents and there were some gifted teachers present at this school. 5 teachers left the lower school this year and they were all excellent. It seems the new lower school head is a really poor manager and is driving away all the talent.

  • (4 years ago)

    Incredible place! Excellent hands-on curriculum wonderful teachers great community. Teaches love of learning. Strives to make kids both reach their full academic potential and become considerate caring individuals who will make a difference. Our kids have thrived there!

  • (4 years ago)

    Keys continues to have staff turnover. This year the 3rd grade teacher 4th grade teacher and middle school principal are all moving on. While some of the turn over is good - Keys now has a very good art teacher for example - it is unsettling for the community. The 4th grade teacher who is leaving is quite gifted at sharing her enthusiasm for math and will be missed. Spanish is poorly and lazily taught at the elementary level here with a lot of dependency on worksheets and movies.

  • (4 years ago)

    I find it ironic that a parent rated this school without ever having their child attend it and years later they are still bitter. This review is based on my child actually attending Keys. She has been very happy with her experience there. We are pleased with the progress she has made. One thing that is outstanding is that if there are any issues with her classes; she feels more than comfortable talking to her teachers during free time and also going to the principal for any concerns she may have.

  • (4 years ago)

    They only want very old boys. They wanted to make our son wait a year for kindergarten - they said he wasn't ready - and they were mean about it and said it would catch up with him. We ignored them and sent him off to Walter Hays. Now he's in 3rd grade - Each and every teacher says he is a delight to have. He has lots of friends and get this - his scores on the STAR are at the very top of advanced. Too bad he wasn't ready for school! We feel like we dodged a bullet - it's amazing how many people pull their kids out of that place. I'm happy to see that our preschool (Bing) no longer encourages parents to apply to Keys.

  • (4 years ago)

    Though we're long-time Keys parents this is the first time I've seen this site. Some of the older reviews mention concerns which have been since rectified. (E.g. a very poor art teacher left several years ago & was replaced by an excellent one; a kiln was even added!) A new six-day block schedule ensures all classes get equal time (no more short stick for Monday classes). Fewer classes each day benefit from longer periods. Transitioning to two campuses did cause some initial disorganization and communication difficulties but the school is quickly getting those back in place as they add more staff to meet the needs of an increasing student body. Outdoor Ed (two weeklong trips by 8th grade) is outstanding. Kids get in and are completely prepared for all high schools public and private.

  • (5 years ago)

    Keys School administration teaches the 'whole' child and has for over 40 years. The involved parent community supports the nurturing environment 100%.

  • (6 years ago)

    Keys School is the best school in the entire world! They have great teachers and students. They also provide a hands on expirience and provide a friendly safe and fun environment. Keys School is everything I have imagined!

  • (6 years ago)

    Keys School is one of the few schools you will find that has a clear mission and sticks to it. The students at Keys are kind engaged and the school helps them to become self advocates. The parent population is wonderful - many opportunities to get involved. The administration is committed to finding the best teachers and curriculum for the students. My child was so well prepared for high school after Keys. Not sure what went wrong for some of the other reviewers as this school is really special in so many ways. The outdoor ed program is great the music and art programs rock... They are building a beautiful new campus for middle school.

  • (6 years ago)

    We are consistently impressed with all aspects of Keys School - academic social and extra-curricular. The staff is very responsive and we feel like our family is truly valued and has a 'voice' at Keys School. We are certainly not wealthy but feel we are every bit as 'important' to the faculty/staff at Keys as some other families who might have more means. We transferred from a local top-ranked pubic school and there is simply no comparison... our children are thriving at Keys while they were merely going through the motions at their previous school. I grew up in Palo Alto and am horrified to think we almost missed out on discovering all Keys has to offer by blindly sending our children to our achievement-at-all-costs-oriented public school. Music! Art! Foreign Language! Social Skills! Tons of PE! Outdoor Ed trips! Wow! Keys is school just exactly like it should be!

  • (7 years ago)

    Keys is a fabulous school with a real hands-on and experiential approach to education but which also fosters high academic achievement. Contrary to a former post the kids are hardly 'chained to the desks' but are perhaps the most active students on the Peninsula! Outdoor education and drama is offered K-8 and all classes and teachers live up to the school's mission. How many other teachers at Peninsula private schools even know their mission nonetheless strive to live up to it? The combination of high academic goals with a nurturing supportive atmosphere is unequaled. Most private high schools will tell you that their best prepared applicants come from Keys. That speaks volumes about Keys' academic preparation as well as its focus on the whole child. The breadth and depth of the curriculum is wonderful and its graduates are known for their independence and self-advocacy skills. A great school!!

  • (7 years ago)

    Keys is a marvelous school and unique on the Peninsula in being a K-8 non-sectarian independent school. Our kids have thrived here because of the wonderful curriculum and fabulous teachers. The teachers know the children well and are responsive to their needs. All aspects of the program are strong and are constantly reviewed to make them even stronger. This is a school that truly does what its mission says it does. The community is wonderful and inclusive. The administration is top notch and very responsive.

  • (8 years ago)

    We moved our child out of Addison the local elementary school where she was completely unchallenged and spent long hours doing coloring... At Keys she has been completely happy her teacher makes her personalized 'fast finisher packets' so she always has something appropriate to do. We like the way themes are integrated through difference lessons. The small size makes a difference too. Each class puts on an incredible play each year and the outdoor education trips which start in kindergarten are a great addition.

  • (8 years ago)

    Our children did very well at Keys but the administration can't handle even the smallest of problems. Their intentions are good but on the whole the staff is much too inexperienced and uneven in their abilities to create a cohesive educational experience. They cannot handle conflicts in the classroom. Music is strong art is very weak reading is strong Spanish is just ok science is stronger than math. They are planning to expand which is worrisome given how uneven the teaching is now. Prospective parents should think long and hard about having their child there during a time when Keys is planning/executing such huge changes. Lots of potential for disaster through the transition.

  • (8 years ago)

    Inconsitent programs math program that is behing the public schools.

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Overall score

(based on 34 ratings & reviews)

  • Teacher quality
  • Principal leadership
  • Parent involvement


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