An important and measurable quality of a given school is the ratio between students and teachers. Though there is widespread disagreement on the optimal student-to-teacher ratio, many argue that a low ratio often fosters stronger outcomes as instructors are better able to focus on individual students and their needs.
Nationwide, there are 16 students for every teacher in public schools. The majority of the best middle schools in each state have lower than average student-to-teacher ratios. In Big Stone City Middle School in South Dakota, there are only six students per teacher, the lowest ratio of any school on this list.
Educational outcomes are the ultimate test of a school’s quality. In 34 of the 50 schools on this list, at least three-quarters of the student body are considered proficient in reading and math. In every school on the list, at least half of all students are proficient in reading, and only one school on this list — Southwest Intermediate Learning Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico — has a math proficiency score below 50%.
Just because a school ranks as the best in its respective state does not necessarily mean it compares favorably on a national scale. Several states have notoriously weak public school systems and even their best schools rank behind thousands of others nationwide. For example, though Suncrest Middle School is the best in West Virginia, more than 2,000 middle schools in the United States are ranked higher. On the other side of the coin, four of the five best middle schools in the country are in Arizona.
To determine the best public middle school in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed rankings for all public schools from school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. Data on rank, number of students, student-to-teacher ratio, and math and reading proficiency also came from Niche. Some schools on this list include high school and elementary school grade levels.