States With the Best and Worst School Systems

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States With The Best School Systems

10. Kentucky
> State score: 80.1
> State grade: B-
> High school graduation rate: 70.5% (15th lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $10,139 (17th lowest)

Kentucky received one of the highest scores — an A grade — on transitions and alignments. The state requires that high school students take a college-preparatory curriculum in order to receive a diploma, which less than a third of all states do. In addition, Kentucky is among a minority of states that use statewide high school assessments for admissions, placement and scholarships in their postsecondary education system. Kentucky’s weakest grade was a C- in school financing. The state’s schools have undergone cuts in recent years. For instance, its safe-school program, created in 1998 after a fatal school shooting in western Kentucky, has had its funding slashed by nearly 60% in the last five-years.

9. West Virginia
> State score: 80.8 (tied-8th highest)
> State grade: B-
> High school graduation rate: 71.5% (20th lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $13,854 (11th highest)

West Virginia received an A- in school finances, the second-best grade of all states. Funding for public schools in West Virginia is more equitable than any other state in the country. Of all taxable resources in the state, 4.7% of that money is spent on public education, the third-highest rate in the country. West Virginia was also one of just 12 states to receive an A for standards, assessments and accountability. The state has standards that are grade- or course-specific in all school levels, in all core subjects and has supplementary resources for all core subjects and particular student populations. Not all is good in West Virginia, however. The state received an F grade for K-12 achievement, one of only three states to obtain a failing grade.

Also Read: The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster

8. New Jersey
> State score: 80.8 (tied-8th highest)
> State grade: B-
> High school graduation rate: 87.4% (the highest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $15,384 (5th highest)

New Jersey’s score in K-12 achievement was second only to Maryland and it was one of just three states to receive a B, the highest grade given out for that category. The state’s  87.4% graduation rate from all public schools in 2009 was  the highest in the country. In addition, per pupil spending in 2010 of $15,384 was the fifth-highest in the country. Back in 2010, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pushed through significant budget cuts to public education. However, a judge ruled against the cuts in the spring of 2011, arguing that they would prevent students from receiving a “thorough and efficient” education. The judge pointed out that the cuts “fell more heavily upon our high risk districts and the children educated within those districts.”

7. Georgia
> State score: 81.0
> State grade: B-
> High school graduation rate: 62.7% (5th lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $9,606 (13th lowest)

Georgia was the only state to receive a perfect score for transitions and alignments, indicating that the state is preparing students to enter postsecondary education and the workforce. Among many other strengths in that department, Georgia is one of only eight states to require that course credits in high school align with the state’s postsecondary education system. Georgia is one of a minority of states that evaluate teachers annually, and is also among the minority in tying teacher evaluations to student performance. The state is also one of just 10 where student performance data has a direct correlation to teacher education programs.

6. Florida
> State score: 81.1
> State grade: B-
> High school graduation rate: 70.4% (14th lowest)
> Per pupil expenditure: $9,572 (12th lowest)

Florida was one of just a few states to receive an A for transitions and alignments, indicating that it has implemented policies that allow students to have an easier transition between different levels of schooling and ultimately the workforce. Florida is among a minority of states to use student assessments for admission, placement and scholarships in their postsecondary education systems. Florida’s biggest weakness was its D+ grade in school financing, toward the bottom of all states.  In 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott cut $1.4 billion in state funding for public schools, although nearly $1 billion was restored the next year due to political pressure.