States With the Best and Worst School Systems

States With The Worst Schools

10. Missouri
> State score:  72.8
> State grade: C
> High school graduation rate: 79.3% (7th highest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $10,747 (22nd lowest)

Missouri received a D grade in K-12 achievement — A mere 9.6% of students in the 11th and 12th grades received a 3 or better  on an advanced placement exam in 2011, compared to 21.9% of students across the country.  Meanwhile, reading scores fell by 1.9 points among fourth graders and 0.6 points among eighth graders between 2003 and 2011. Across the country, reading scores improved by 3.6 points for fourth graders and 2.3 points for eighth graders during that time. While math scores among fourth and eighth graders did improve, the improvement was well below the gains made across the country.

9. Oregon
> State score: 72.7
> State grade: C
> High school graduation rate: 73.1% (24th lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $10,142 (18th lowest)

Oregon received D grades in K-12 achievement and the teaching profession, both among the lowest grades of all states. A smaller percentage of Oregon students scored proficient in both reading and mathematics at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels compared to the rest of the country. Education Week points out that poverty among fourth graders climbed faster than in nearly any other state between 2003 and 2011, which indicates that many students may have a harder time succeeding in the classroom. Oregon’s  graduation rate of 73.1% across all public schools was lower than the country as a whole. Oregon is just one of five states that doesn’t require that teachers’ performance be formally evaluated.

Also Read: The States Doling out the Best (and Worst) Benefits

8. Arizona
> State score: 72.2 (tied-7th lowest)
> State grade: C-
> High school graduation rate: 72.3% (23rd lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $8,698 (4th lowest)

Arizona received a grade of C- in terms of its students having a strong chance for success, a grade that was near the bottom of all states. Only 34% of children ages 3 and 4 were enrolled in preschool in 2011, the second-lowest percentage in the country and well below the rate of nearly 48% across the U.S. That year, only 39% of children in school had at least one parent with a secondary degree, well below the 45.4% of children across the country. Arizona is just one of four states to receive the worst grade for teaching profession, indicating that it is hard to retain and recruit talented teachers to the state. In 2010, Arizona joined most states in adopting  more rigorous national education standards, called the Common Core Standards. But The Arizona Republic reports the state presently lacks the funding to properly train teachers or purchase supplies needed to implement the new standards.

7. Montana
> State score: 72.2 (tied-7th lowest)
> State grade: C-
> High school graduation rate: 77.4% (14th highest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $14,281 (8th highest)

Montana received a D- grade for transitions and alignments, lower than any other state, indicating that it has difficulty preparing students for both college and the workforce.  The state is just one of three, along with North Dakota and Nebraska, not to offer a way to earn college credits in the K-12 education system. The lack of preparation for higher learning in Montana begins even before kindergarten. It is just one of four states not to have early-learning standards align with elementary-school academic standards. Montana also scored in the bottom quintile  for of standards, assessments and accountability, receiving a C grade.

6. Nebraska
> State score: 71.2
> State grade: C-
> High school graduation rate: 76.6% (16th highest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $13,549 (12th highest)

Nebraska received a D+ grade for standards, assessments and accountability, the worst grade of all 50 states. It is just one of a few states that lack supplementary resources beyond the official standard documents in core subjects. The state doesn’t have course- or grade-specific standards at the high school level for any core subject, one of only a handful of states lacking this. As for science and social studies, there are no course- or grade-specific standards for middle school or elementary school either. The state also scored third from the bottom in transitions and alignments. Nebraska is one of just three states where students are unable to transfer credits from K-12 schools to the state’s higher education system. It is also one of just seven states that does not offer high school diplomas with career specialization.

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