School Districts Where Students are Most Likely to Succeed By State

March 9, 2019 by Mike Sauter

Source: skynesher / Getty Images
The American education system continues to compare unfavorably to other affluent nations. In international testing, American students rank behind 18 countries in science and behind 36 in math. Nationwide statistics in student achievement, however, tell relatively little about the potential success of students in a particular U.S. school district.

American school districts are largely funded by local sources such as property taxes. So while affluent districts can afford to spend thousands more — sometimes tens of thousands more — per student, providing cutting-edge technology, a wide diversity of courses, and other amenities, schools in poor districts can sometimes struggle to afford competent teachers and maintain the school building. While schools in poorer districts receive funding from the state and federal government, this funding rarely comes close to evening out the playing field. Across the nation, per student spending ranges from less than $10,000 to more than $30,000 in some cases.

That difference in spending is actually only one component that contributes to the differences in student success across the country. Children whose parents lack a high school or college education or children who live in poverty are much more likely to struggle in school than those growing up in affluent homes with college-educated parents.

To determine the school district where students are most likely to find success, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on each district’s share of adults with a bachelor’s degree, child poverty rate, teacher-to-student ratio, per-pupil spending, preschool enrollment, and high school graduation rate.

Click here to see the school districts where students are most likely to succeed.
Click here to read our methodology.

Source: AuburnPilot / Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Mountain Brook City School District
> Location: Jefferson County
> Per student spending: $13,037
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 85.4%

Mountain Brook school district, located in the city of Mountain Brook, near Birmingham, is the best school district in Alabama. Children whose parents earned a bachelor’s degree have been shown to have more success in school. Alabama is one of the least educated states, but 85.4% of adults in the district are college-educated, more than three times the state’s share.

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Source: Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

Alaska: Juneau Borough School District
> Location: Juneau City and Borough
> Per student spending: $16,435
> High school graduation rate: 86%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.3%

As the school district where students have the best chance for success in the state, the Juneau Borough district has a relatively low 86% high school graduation rate. But that is actually the highest graduation rate of school districts with available data in the state. The district, which serves about 5,000 students in the state capital, also has a high adult bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 40%.

Source: JulieTFarbarik / Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Catalina Foothills Unified District
> Location: Pima County
> Per student spending: $7,052
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 69.0%

In Catalina Foothills Unified District, the best school district in Arizona, 37% of high school seniors are enrolled in advanced placement courses, the largest share of any school district in the state. Strong early childhood education programs can improve overall educational outcomes in a school district, and in Catalina Foothills, 75% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, one of the highest shares of any school district in the state.

Source: Courtesy of Bentonville Schools via Facebook

Arkansas: Bentonville Public Schools
> Location: Benton County
> Per student spending: $9,260
> High school graduation rate: 92%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.3%

Bentonville, the home of the headquarters of Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue, is also home to the state’s best school district. The public school system has one of the best high school graduation rates in the state. Also, over 30% of high school students in the district enroll in Advanced Placement courses, a higher share than the vast majority of school districts across the country.

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Source: Courtesy of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School via Facebook

California: Piedmont City Unified School District
> Location: Alameda County
> Per student spending: $15,979
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 84.8%

Children who grow up in households with college-educated parents are more likely to find success in school and go to college. In California’s Piedmont City Unified School District, an astounding 84.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, which is well more than double the statewide adult college attainment rate and one of the highest of any school district in America. The district also has a high school graduation rate of 98%, among the highest in both the state and the country.

Source: Kvng / Wikimedia Commons

Colorado: Boulder Valley School District RE-2
> Location: Boulder, Broomfield, and Gilpin counties
> Per student spending: $11,112
> High school graduation rate: 91%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 67.2%

The Boulder Valley School District, which serves three counties in the Boulder area, is the best school district in Colorado. The district’s 33% AP enrollment rate among high schoolers is one of the highest in the state, as is the annual per pupil expenditure of $11,112.

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Source: Courtesy of Westport Public Schools via Facebook

Connecticut: Westport School District
> Location: Fairfield County
> Per student spending: $22,692
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 76.4%

Strong preschool enrollment can improve educational outcomes down the road — and in the Westport School District in Connecticut, 90.1% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, well above the 47.5% national enrollment rate and even above the state’s relatively high 64.2% enrollment rate. One of the wealthiest school districts in the United States, Westport spends $22,692 per student annually, more than the vast majority of school districts nationwide. The school district’s high school graduation rate in 2017 was a near perfect 98%.

Source: Courtesy of Appoquinimink School District via Facebook

Delaware: Appoquinimink School District
> Location: New Castle County
> Per student spending: $11,448
> High school graduation rate: 95%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.6%

Children growing up in poverty are likely to struggle significantly more in school than children raised in affluent households. In the Appoquinimink School District in the northern part of Delaware, less than 6% of children live in poverty, less than half the child poverty rate of any other district in the state. Additionally, nearly 95% of high schoolers in the district graduate on time, easily the highest graduation rate in the state among districts with comparable data.

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

Florida: St. Johns County School District
> Location: St. Johns County
> Per student spending: $8,521
> High school graduation rate: 91%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.0%

Florida’s St. Johns County School District is located near Jacksonville. The district, which is one of the largest on this list, has more than 36,000 students. Close to one-third of the district’s high school students enroll in AP classes. In the vast majority of the state’s districts, AP enrollment is less than 20%.

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Source: Courtesy of City Schools of Decatur via Facebook

Georgia: Decatur City School District
> Location: DeKalb County
> Per student spending: $12,325
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 71.7%

The Decatur City School District has a 72.9% preschool enrollment rate, higher than nearly every other school district considered in Georgia and well above the 47.5% national rate. Also, about 43% of high school seniors in the school district are enrolled in advanced placement courses, nearly the largest share of any Georgia school district and more than the share in the vast majority of school districts nationwide.

Source: Courtesy of Hawaii State Department of Education via Facebook

Hawaii: Hawaii Department of Education
> Location: Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai, and Maui counties
> Per student spending: $13,748
> High school graduation rate: 83%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.0%

There are no separate school districts in Hawaii. Rather, the entire school system is controlled by the Hawaii Department of Education. For this reason, this district, which serves all of Hawaii’s 181,000 public school students, is both the state’s best and its worst. For that reason, the district does not compare favorably to most of those on this list. For example, its 83% high school graduation rate is lower than most districts on this list, although it is better than that of many other districts across the country.

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Source: Courtesy of Blaine County School District #61 via Facebook

Idaho: Blaine County School District 61
> Location: Blaine County
> Per student spending: $15,585
> High school graduation rate: 91%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.4%

In Idaho’s Blaine County School District 61, there are 83 teachers for every 1,000 students, a better student-to-teacher ratio than the vast majority of school districts in the state. This higher ratio of teachers per student is due in part to greater spending. Blaine County schools spend $15,585 per student per year, more than every other district for which data was available in Idaho, and well above the $13,929 national average per pupil spending.

Source: Courtesy of Naperville School District 203 via Facebook

Illinois: Naperville Community Unit District 203
> Location: DuPage and Will counties
> Per student spending: $16,480
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 64.5%

The Naperville Community Unit District 203 has one of the best high school graduation rates in both Illinois and the country. In the 2016-2017 school year, 98% of high schoolers graduated on time. Students in the district benefit from several factors, including greater than average per pupil spending and a lower poverty rate.

Source: Courtesy of Zionsville Community High School via Facebook

Indiana: Zionsville Community Schools
> Location: Boone County
> Per student spending: $9,070
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 70.3%

Per capita spending per student in the Zionsville Community Schools district in Indiana is about $9,000 per student. While this is relatively low compared to some of the other top districts on this list, the district, which serves around 6,700 students, has a high school graduation rate of 97%, one of the highest of any district in the country.

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Source: Courtesy of Waukee Community School District via Facebook

Iowa: Waukee Community School District
> Location: Dallas County
> Per student spending: $9,268
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 61.1%

The Ames Community School District spends an average of $9,268 per student annually, relatively low compared to many school districts in the state. But in terms of student opportunity for success, the district ranks among the best in the country. The district has a near-perfect 98% high school graduation rate, an extremely low child poverty rate, and an adult college attainment rate roughly twice the national figure.

Source: Courtesy of Blue Valley School District via Facebook

Kansas: Blue Valley Unified School District 229
> Location: Johnson and Miami counties
> Per student spending: $9,576
> High school graduation rate: 95%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 69.6%

Kansas’s Blue Valley Unified School District, located near Kansas City, serves over 22,000 students. Students whose parents have completed a postsecondary education have a greater chance of success throughout their education. In the district, nearly 70% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, more than twice the bachelor’s degree attainment rate across Kansas, which has one of the most highly educated populations.

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Source: Courtesy of Oldham County Schools via Facebook

Kentucky: Oldham County School District
> Location: Oldham County
> Per student spending: $8,994
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.4%

A strong early childhood education program can improve education outcomes in any school district. In the Oldham County School District, 64.4% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, one of the highest shares of any district with adequate data in Kentucky. Also, 42.7% of high school students in Oldham are enrolled in advanced placement classes, among the highest AP enrollment rates in the country.

Source: Courtesy of Plaquemines Parish School Board

Louisiana: Plaquemines Parish School District
> Location: Plaquemines Parish
> Per student spending: $17,786
> High school graduation rate: 91%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.3%

Louisiana’s K-12 education system ranks as one of the worst in the country in measures of achievement and student chance for success. Students in the Plaquemines Parish School District, however, are less likely to face some of the problems students in other districts across the state face, particularly problems related to funding. The district’s per student spending of $17,786 is more than double the state’s average per student spending.

Source: Courtesy of Scarborough Public Schools via Facebook

Maine: Scarborough
> Location: Cumberland County
> Per student spending: $13,864
> High school graduation rate: 95%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 53.1%

In the Scarborough school district, 21.4% of high schoolers take an advanced placement class, and 95% graduate on time, each among the higher shares out of all districts in Maine. Students who live in poverty face additional stress that can affect their academic performance, and in the Scarborough school district, just 5.1% of the population lives below the poverty line, well below the 11.1% state poverty rate.

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Source: Courtesy of Howard County Public School System via Facebook

Maryland: Howard County Public Schools
> Location: Howard County
> Per student spending: $15,476
> High school graduation rate: 92%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 61.2%

Maryland has one of the most highly educated populations in the country, with an adult bachelor’s degree attainment rate of nearly 40%. Students whose parents have a college education are more likely to be successful in school and throughout life, and over 60% of adults in the Howard County Public Schools district have a bachelor’s degree. The district also has one of the highest teacher-to-student ratios in the state.

Source: John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts: Lexington School District
> Location: Middlesex County
> Per student spending: $17,851
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 81.6%

Close to 40% of high school students in the Lexington School District are enrolled in advanced placement courses, and 98% graduate on time, each among the larger shares of any school district in both Massachusetts and the U.S. as a whole. Children raised in households with well-educated parents are more likely to succeed academically, and in the Lexington School District, 81.6% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, far more than the 30.9% share of American adults nationwide.

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Source: Courtesy of Bloomfield Hills Schools via Facebook

Michigan: Bloomfield Hills School District
> Location: Oakland County
> Per student spending: $17,551
> High school graduation rate: 95%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 71.7%

The best school district in Michigan is the Bloomfield Hills School District. Located in the suburbs of Detroit, it is free of many of the issues that plague other districts near the city. The per student funding in the district of roughly 5,500 students is $17,551, one of the highest amounts in the state. The district is also one of relatively few in the state with an AP enrollment rate among high schoolers above 20% and a high school graduation rate above 90%.

Source: Courtesy of Edina Public Schools via Facebook

Minnesota: Edina Public School District
> Location: Hennepin County
> Per student spending: $11,660
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 72.6%

Pre-K education has been shown to be crucial to childhood development, and districts where more children are enrolled in early education programs are more likely to yield better educational outcomes. In the Edina Public School District, the best in Minnesota, well over 70% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, compared to a state rate of 45%.

Source: Courtesy of Madison County Schools via Facebook

Mississippi: Madison County School District
> Location: Madison County
> Per student spending: $8,845
> High school graduation rate: 87%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 52.2%

Children raised in households with well-educated parents are more likely to succeed academically, and in the Madison County school district, over half of all adults have a bachelor’s degree, the largest share of any Mississippi school district for which data is available. Students in the district also benefit from a strong early childhood education program. Madison County is one of the few districts in the state where over 75% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool.

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Source: Courtesy of School District of Clayton via Facebook

Missouri: Clayton School District
> Location: St. Louis County
> Per student spending: $20,363
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 78.4%

While high per student spending is not a guarantee of a better education, schools with better funding are able to offer additional programs, better facilities, and hire more qualified teachers. In Missouri’s Clayton School District, located west of downtown St. Louis, per student funding exceeds $20,000 — more than double the state average K-12 funding per student. At 98%, the district has one of the best high school graduation rates in the country.

Source: Courtesy of Florence-Carlton School District 15-6 via Facebook

Montana: Florence-Carlton K-12 Schools
> Location: Ravalli County
> Per student spending: $9,110
> High school graduation rate: N/A
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.0%

As one of the nation’s most sparsely populated states, Montana only has a few school districts that met our population cutoff of 500 students. Of those, the Florence-Carlton K-12 district south of Missoula is the one where students are most likely to find success. Students in the district benefit from an above-average adult educational attainment rate and a relatively low child poverty rate.

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Source: Courtesy of Gretna High School via Facebook

Nebraska: Gretna Public Schools
> Location: Douglas and Sarpy counties
> Per student spending: $8,830
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 52.1%

Students with college-educated parents are more likely to find success in school and are more likely to attend college. More than half the adults in the Gretna Public School District on the outskirts of Omaha have a bachelor’s degree, well above the 31.7% of Nebraska adults and one of the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of any district in the state. Students appear to be benefitting from the support of their parents, as 97% of high schoolers in the district graduated on time in 2017, one the highest graduation rate of any school district in the country.

Source: Bart133 / Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Douglas County School District
> Location: Douglas County
> Per student spending: $10,404
> High school graduation rate: 88%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.2%

The Douglas County School District’s 88% high school graduation rate does not compare favorably to some of the other districts on this list, but it is one of the higher rates in Nevada for which data is available. Similarly, while the district’s adult college attainment rate of 27.7% is below the national figure, it is higher than that of nearly every district in the state.

Source: John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: Portsmouth School District
> Location: Rockingham County
> Per student spending: $20,806
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 57.9%

In the Portsmouth School District in New Hampshire, which ranks as the best in the state, per student spending for the district’s 2,263 students is one of the highest in the state. The district also has a 97% high school graduation rate, nearly the highest in New Hampshire.

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Source: Courtesy of Princeton Public Schools, New Jersey via Facebook

New Jersey: Princeton Public Schools
> Location: Mercer County
> Per student spending: $24,100
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 79.6%

Early childhood education can better prepare children for success later in their academic career, and in the Princeton school district, over 90% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, nearly the largest share in both the state and the country. Additionally, about 42% of high schoolers are enrolled in advanced placement courses, and 97% graduate on time.

Source: Courtesy of Los Alamos Public Schools via Facebook

New Mexico: Los Alamos Public Schools
> Location: Los Alamos and Sandoval counties
> Per student spending: $11,044
> High school graduation rate: 87%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 65.5%

As is the case in many school districts on this list, Los Alamos is by far the wealthiest in New Mexico. The typical household in the district earns $110,190 a year, well more than double the median income of $46,744 across the state. High school students in the school district are far more likely to be enrolled in an advanced placement class and graduate on time than the typical high schooler in New Mexico.

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Source: Courtesy of Jericho Wrestling Alumni via Facebook

New York: Jericho Union Free School District
> Location: Nassau County
> Per student spending: $34,892
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 72.1%

Poverty can cause considerable stress and undermine academic performance, and in the Jericho Union Free School District on Long Island, just 5.2% of children live below the poverty line, a fraction of the 14.1% poverty rate across the state as a whole. One of the wealthiest school districts in the country, the district spends nearly $35,000 on average per pupil annually, nearly triple the average per pupil spending of $11,762 per year nationwide.

Source: Courtesy of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools via Facebook

North Carolina: Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools
> Location: Orange County
> Per student spending: $11,761
> High school graduation rate: 90%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 72.0%

Children with well-educated parents are more likely to succeed academically, and in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, 72% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the largest share of any North Carolina school district. Many in the district also benefit from early childhood education programs as over two-thirds of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool.

Source: Courtesy of Fargo Public Schools via Facebook

North Dakota: Fargo Public School District 1
> Location: Cass County
> Per student spending: $13,159
> High school graduation rate: 85%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.2%

With more than 11,000 students, Fargo Public School District 1 has one of the highest total enrollments of any North Dakota school district. These students are more likely to succeed academically than those in other school districts within the state. The area’s adult bachelor’s degree attainment rate is 39.2%, well above the state’s attainment rate. Children who have highly educated parents are more likely to go on to achieve academic success themselves.

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Source: Courtesy of Upper Arlington Schools via Facebook

Ohio: Upper Arlington City School District
> Location: Franklin County
> Per student spending: $14,709
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 75.9%

Ohio’s Upper Arlington School District reports a high school graduation rate of 97%, among the highest in the country. The district, which is located north of Columbus, near Ohio State University, has one of the most highly educated adult populations in the country — more than three-quarters of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. Students whose parents have a college education are more likely to be successful in school.

Source: Courtesy of Deer Creek School District via Facebook

Oklahoma: Deer Creek Public Schools
> Location: Canadian, Logan, and Oklahoma counties
> Per student spending: $6,532
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 59.4%

The high school graduation rate in the Deer Creek school district is 96%, the highest of any district in Oklahoma. Students raised by parents with higher educational attainment are more likely to succeed academically, and in Deer Creek, 59.4% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 25.5% of adults in Oklahoma. Like many other school districts on this list, Deer Creek is wealthy. The typical area household earns $107,659 a year, more than double the median income in Oklahoma of $50,051.

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Source: Courtesy of Lake Oswego School District via Facebook

Oregon: Lake Oswego School District 7J
> Location: Clackamas and Multnomah counties
> Per student spending: $9,926
> High school graduation rate: 92%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 67.0%

Oregon has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the United States, but dropouts are not an issue in the Lake Oswego School District 7J, which boasts a graduation rate of 92%. In addition to a high graduation rate, the district, which is south of Portland, has one of the highest AP enrollment rates among high school students as well as one of the higher preschool enrollment rates among 3- and 4-year olds.

Source: Courtesy of Lower Merion School District via Facebook

Pennsylvania: Lower Merion School District
> Location: Delaware County
> Per student spending: $20,466
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 73.6%

The Lower Merion School District in eastern Pennsylvania is the best school district in the state and one of the best in the country. In 2017, 98% of the senior class graduated on time. The district also has a strong early childhood education program with about 83% of 3- and 4-year olds in the area enrolled in preschool. Lower Merion also spends over $20,000 per student annually, well above that of most U.S. school districts.

Source: Courtesy of Barrington Public Schools via Facebook

Rhode Island: Barrington School District
> Location: Bristol County
> Per student spending: $14,257
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 67.7%

Rhode Island’s Barrington School District has the highest high school graduation rate of any district in the state with available data, at 96%. As one of the richest in the state, students in the district are less likely to face obstacles associated with living in poverty. The median annual household income of $117,408 is almost double the national median, and just 3.5% of children in the district live in poverty, one of the lowest child poverty rates of any district in the country.

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Source: Courtesy of Fort Mill School District via Facebook

South Carolina: York School District 4
> Location: York County
> Per student spending: $8,870
> High school graduation rate: 94%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.0%

Children growing up in poverty are likely to struggle significantly more in school than children raised in affluent households. In the York School District 4, just 6% of children live in poverty, making it the only district in the state with child poverty rate below 10%. This fact, along with the district’s 94% high school graduation rate, help explain why it ranks as the best school district in the state.

Source: Courtesy of Brandon Valley High School via Facebook

South Dakota: Brandon Valley School District 49-2
> Location: Minnehaha County
> Per student spending: $7,880
> High school graduation rate: 94%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.6%

The 94% high school graduation rate in the Brandon Valley School District 49-2 is the highest of any district in the state with available data. As is often the case in other states, South Dakota’s best school district is also one of its wealthiest. The typical household in the district earns $83,368 a year, compared with the $56,521 median household income across the state.

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Source: Courtesy of Williamson County Schools via Facebook

Tennessee: Williamson County School District
> Location: Williamson County
> Per student spending: $8,635
> High school graduation rate: 96%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 60.3%

William County School District, which serves over 36,000 students, is one of the largest to make this list. It is also one of the least funded and one of the few on this list to spend less than $10,000 per student annually. Still, the district has one of the highest high school graduation rates in Tennessee. It also has highly educated, wealthy adult residents — a strong indicator that the district’s students will find success in school.

Source: Courtesy of Highland Park ISD via Facebook

Texas: Highland Park Independent School District (Dallas County)
> Location: Dallas County
> Per student spending: $9,179
> High school graduation rate: 98%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 86.6%

The Highland Park Independent School District is the best in Texas and among the best in the country. The district has a near-perfect 98% high school graduation rate. Early childhood education can promote academic success later in life, and in Highland Park, 80.7% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in a preschool program. Nationwide, just 47.5% of the age group are enrolled in preschool.

Source: Courtesy of Park City School District via Facebook

Utah: Park City School District
> Location: Summit County
> Per student spending: $11,732
> High school graduation rate: 93%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 64.7%

Utah’s Park City, located east of Salt Lake City and next to the state’s most popular skiing area, is one of the most affluent places in the state. The district has one of the highest graduation rates in the state, and more than 30% of high school students enroll in AP classes, the highest among state districts with available data.

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Source: Courtesy of South Burlington High School Alumni via Facebook

Vermont: South Burlington School District
> Location: Chittenden County
> Per student spending: $18,855
> High school graduation rate: 91%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 54.1%

South Burlington school district outranks the nearby Burlington school district partially because of its student-to-teacher ratio. There are the equivalent of 82 teachers in the South Burlington school district for every 1,000 students compared to 77 per 1,000 in Burlington. South Burlington’s 91% high school graduation rate is also far higher than Burlington’s 84% rate, and high schoolers in South Burlington are more likely than those in Burlington to enroll in advanced placement courses.

Source: Courtesy of Arlington County Public Schools

Virginia: Arlington County Public Schools
> Location: Arlington County
> Per student spending: $17,927
> High school graduation rate: 83%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 74.1%

Early childhood education can set the stage for academic success in later years, and in the Arlington County school district 73% of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, the largest share of any Virginia school district with available data. Students in Arlington County also benefit from higher than typical investment in education. The district spends an average of $17,927 per student per year, well above the national average district per-student spending of $11,762.

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Source: Courtesy of Mercer Island School District via Facebook

Washington: Mercer Island School District
> Location: King County
> Per student spending: $11,557
> High school graduation rate: 95%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 78.2%

The class of 2017 in the Mercer Island School District’s 98% high school graduation rate is among the highest in the state and among the highest nationwide. Children raised by adults with higher educational attainment are more likely to succeed academically, and in the Mercer Island School District, 78.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly largest share of any school district in Washington.

Source: Courtesy of Morgantown High School

West Virginia: Monongalia School District
> Location: Monongalia County
> Per student spending: $11,107
> High school graduation rate: 90%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.8%

Pre-K education has been shown to be crucial to childhood development, and districts where more students access early education programs are more likely to yield better-prepared students. While West Virginia has one of the lowest preschool enrollment rates in the country, enrollment is much higher in the Monongalia County school district. The district is also one of the very few state districts where more than 20% of high school students enroll in AP course.

Source: Courtesy of Whitefish Bay School District via Facebook

Wisconsin: Whitefish Bay School District
> Location: Milwaukee County
> Per student spending: $10,833
> High school graduation rate: 97%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 73.8%

The district, located north of downtown Milwaukee on Lake Michigan, has an extremely high 97% high school graduation rate as well as one of the highest teacher-to-student ratios of any district in the state. Students in the district are likely to grow up in households conducive to their long-term success. The area has a 73.8% adult bachelor’s attainment rate, more than double the statewide rate, and one of the lowest child poverty rates of any district in the state.

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Source: Courtesy of Albany County School District 1 via Facebook

Wyoming: Albany County School District 1
> Location: Albany County
> Per student spending: $15,983
> High school graduation rate: 79%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 49.8%

Children of well-educated adults are more likely to succeed academically, and about 50% of adults in Albany County School District 1 have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 27.6% of adults across Wyoming.

Methodology

To determine the worst school district in every state, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various socioeconomic measures, school finance, student success, and environmental factors. The share of children aged 5 to 17 living with their family who are in poverty as of 2017 came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program and was included in the index. Per-pupil expenditure for 2016 came from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of School System Finances and was included in the index. The average cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for the 2015-2016 school year came from the National Center for Education Statistics and was included in the index. The number of teachers per student in the 2016-17 school year also came from the NCES and was included in the index. The share of adults aged 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree came from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey and were included in the index. All data are for the most recent period available. Any school district with a population of less than 500 was excluded. Any school district that did not have a cohort-level graduation rate was excluded, with the exception of the state of Montana, for which graduation rates were not included in the index.