Few public services in the United States contain such stark differences in quality as the public education system. While there are several school districts that spend more than $50,000 per student on education each year, in other districts education expenditures amount to less than $2,000 per student.
That difference in spending contributes to major disparities in student outcomes throughout the country. The majority of a school’s budget is spent on staff and teacher salaries. A school that lacks the resources to attract the best teachers can put students at a greater disadvantage.
Those disadvantages are often the greatest in the poorest parts of the country. Approximately 44% of all school funding in the United States comes from local sources such as property tax. As a result, many of the worst school districts are in poor counties where a majority of households make less than half of that of the typical American household.
To determine the worst school district in every state, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various measures of child poverty, per-pupil expenditure, graduation rate, teachers per student, the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree, preschool enrollment, and AP enrollment.