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 over 180,000 public school students, is both the state’s best and its worst. For that reason, the district compares favorably to most of those on this list. For example, its 83% high school graduation rate is higher than most districts on this list, and closely in line with the 85% national graduation rate.
Idaho: Caldwell School District 132
> Location: Canyon County
> Per student spending: $6,637
> High school graduation rate: 77%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.3%
Preschool can be an important step in early childhood development. In Idaho, less than one-third of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, the lowest preschool enrollment rate in the country. In the Caldwell School District, early education enrollment is even lower than across the state, with just 18.7% of young children enrolled in preschool programs.
Illinois: East St. Louis School District 189
> Location: St. Clair County
> Per student spending: $15,773
> High school graduation rate: 71%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.2%
Students in the East St. Louis School District 189 face enormous barriers to their success, though funding is not one of them. The district spends $15,773 per student compared to national average spending of $11,762 per student. Still, children living in poverty are more likely to struggle in school, and East St. Louis is one of the poorer areas in the country, with a child poverty rate of 48.3%. The district’s high school graduation rate of 71% is one of the lowest in the state.
Indiana: Gary Community School Corporation
> Location: Lake County
> Per student spending: $13,386
> High school graduation rate: 86%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.3%
Children who grow up in a household with parents who completed college have been shown to be more likely to do better in school and more likely to attend college. In the Gary Community School Corporation district, just 13.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, which is about half the rate across Indiana. The state itself has one of the lower college attainment rates in the country, with 26.8% of adults holding a bachelor’s degree.
Iowa: Burlington Community School District
> Location: Des Moines County
> Per student spending: $9,960
> High school graduation rate: 73%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.6%
Per student funding in Iowa’s Burlington County is less than $10,000, lower than the national average spending per pupil $11,762, and below that of most districts in the state. The district’s 73% high school graduation rate for the 2016-17 senior class was the lowest in the state among districts with comparable data.