Special Report

The Best School District in Every State

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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 is able to attract the best teachers can give their students a major advantage.

Those advantages are often the greatest in the most affluent 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, most of the highest quality school districts are in wealthy counties where a majority of households make more than double that of the typical American household.

To determine the best 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.

Click here to see the full list of the best school districts in every state.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this piece incorrectly labeled Kansas’s best school district as “Wenatchee School District.” The school district’s name is Blue Valley Unified School District 229. The name has been corrected.

Source: mtnbrook.k12.al.us

1. Alabama
> Best school district: Mountain Brook City School District
> Location: Jefferson County
> Per student spending: $12,324 (total enrollment: 4,461)
> High school graduation rate: 96.8%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 85.1%

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Source: Cordova Junior-Senior High School / Facebook

2. Alaska
> Best school district: Cordova City School District
> Location: Valdez-Cordova Census Area
> Per student spending: $21,755 (total enrollment: 343)
> High school graduation rate: 90.2%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.8%

Source: JulieTFarbarik / Wikimedia Commons

3. Arizona
> Best school district: Catalina Foothills Unified District
> Location: Pima County
> Per student spending: $6,910 (total enrollment: 4,948)
> High school graduation rate: 90.8%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 67.6%

Source: Woodlawn High School / Facebook

4. Arkansas
> Best school district: Woodlawn School District
> Location: Cleveland County
> Per student spending: $8,413 (total enrollment: 542)
> High school graduation rate: 98.3%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.6%

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Source: Canyons School District / Facebook

5. California
> Best school district: Palo Alto Unified School District
> Location: Santa Clara County
> Per student spending: $16,154 (total enrollment: 12,527)
> High school graduation rate: 100.0%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 81.7%

Source: tellurideschool.org

6. Colorado
> Best school district: Telluride School District R-1
> Location: San Miguel County
> Per student spending: $12,433 (total enrollment: 898)
> High school graduation rate: 100.0%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 64.0%

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Source: ncps-k12.org

7. Connecticut
> Best school district: New Canaan School District
> Location: Fairfield County
> Per student spending: $22,023 (total enrollment: 4,201)
> High school graduation rate: N/A
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 77.7%

Source: Brandywine School District / Facebook

8. Delaware
> Best school district: Brandywine School District
> Location: New Castle County
> Per student spending: $15,170 (total enrollment: 10,739)
> High school graduation rate: 80.8%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.9%

Source: SJC School District / Facebook

9. Florida
> Best school district: St. Johns County School District
> Location: St. Johns County
> Per student spending: $8,479 (total enrollment: 35,268)
> High school graduation rate: 88.6%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.5%

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Source: Courtesy of City Schools of Decatur via Facebook

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