Special Report

School Districts Where Students Are Least Likely to Succeed by State

Source: Courtesy of Chelsea Public Schools via Facebook

Massachusetts: Chelsea School District
> Location: Suffolk County
> Per student spending: $13,658
> High school graduation rate: 57%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.4%

Massachusetts is home to some of the most affluent communities and to many of the best school districts in the United States. The Chelsea School District, however, has a high school graduation rate of just 57%, the worst in the state among districts with comparable data. With just two exceptions, every other district in the state has a high school graduation rate of at least 70%. Massachusetts is one of the states with the highest preschool enrollment rates, at nearly 60% of 3- and 4-year olds. In the Chelsea School District, just 32.6% of preschool-age children are in school.

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Source: Courtesy of Hamady Middle/High School via Facbeook

Michigan: Westwood Heights Schools
> Location: Genesee County
> Per student spending: $9,164
> High school graduation rate: 39%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.1%

In Michigan, students in the Westwood Heights Schools district are the least likely to succeed, with just 39% of high school seniors graduating on time in 2017, one of the lowest graduation rates in both the state and the country. In comparison, 85% of high school students graduated on time nationwide.

High enrollment in Advanced Placement courses in a school district can be a sign students there are excelling at their studies. The average enrollment rate across all school districts nationwide with available data is 18.4% of high school students, but in this district, no students are reported as enrolled in AP classes.

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Source: Courtesy of Brooklyn Center Community Schools via Facebook

Minnesota: Brooklyn Center School District
> Location: Hennepin County
> Per student spending: $12,122
> High school graduation rate: 50%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 18.6%

In the Brooklyn Center School District north of Minneapolis, the high school graduation rate in 2017 was just 50%, one of the worst in both the state and country as a whole. The average high school graduation rate across all U.S. districts with available data is 85%. Districts with high enrollment in AP courses are more likely to have students who are likely to excel in school and be more successful in college. The district’s Advanced Placement enrollment of 0.2% is well below the nationwide average of 18.4%.

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Source: Courtesy of Holmes County Consolidated School District via Facebook

Mississippi: Holmes County School District
> Location: Holmes County
> Per student spending: $8,238
> High school graduation rate: 78%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.0%

Mississippi’s Holmes County School District has one of the lowest teacher-to-student ratios of any district in the state and the country as a whole. Studies have shown that children who grow up in poverty are more likely to struggle in K-12 schooling and are less likely to attend college than their peers. Across the country, 17.3% of school-aged children live in poverty, but in the Holmes County School District, over half of all children do, one of the highest child poverty rates in the country.

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Source: Courtesy of Riverview Gardens School District via Facebook

Missouri: Riverview Gardens School District
> Location: St. Louis County
> Per student spending: $8,776
> High school graduation rate: 83%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.6%

High per-student spending in school districts is by no means a guarantee students will be more successful than those in lower spending districts. Nevertheless, schools in low-spending districts can sometimes struggle to afford to maintain the school building and to hire as many teachers as are needed. In the roughly 6,100-student Riverview Gardens School District in St. Louis, the schools spend $8,776 per student annually, one of the lower per pupil spending among state public school districts and well below the national average district spending of $11,762 per student.

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