Special Report

The School District Where Students Are Least Likely to Succeed in Every State

Source: Joel Bradshaw / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hawaii: Hawaii Public Schools
> Location: Honolulu County
> Annual per student spending: $14,322
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.5%

Hawaii is the only state to have a single school district manage every public school. Therefore, the district’s ranking on this list is by default only. In fact, by several measures, public school students in Hawaii have some advantages over students nationwide. For example, annual per student spending in the state is $14,322 compared to the national average of $12,201. Higher-spending districts often have smaller class sizes, and in Hawaii, the average student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1 is slightly lower than the 16.1 to 1 national average.

Source: TheYarnBender / Wikimedia Commons

12. Idaho: Mountain View School District 244
> Location: Idaho County
> Annual per student spending: $10,075
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.6%

Idaho’s Mountain View School District 244 ranks as the district in the state where students are least likely to succeed academically due in large part to conditions outside of the classroom.

Students who live in poor households are much less likely than those who grow up in more affluent households to succeed in school, as are those whose parents have a college education. In the district, 15.8% of school-aged children live below the poverty line, compared to 12.5% of children statewide. Additionally, just 19.6% of adults in the district have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 26.9% of adults across the state.

Source: Courtesy of Cahokia High School via Facebook

13. Illinois: Cahokia Unit School District 187
> Location: St. Clair County
> Annual per student spending: $17,132
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 7.3%

Illinois’ Cahokia Community Unit School District 187, located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, has very poor student outcomes, despite relatively high per pupil spending. The district’s high school graduation rate is less than 70%, and according to Niche just 6% of students score as proficient in math and just 5% in reading.

Students whose parents have graduated college are less likely to struggle academically, and the district’s 7.3% bachelor’s degree attainment rate among adults is the lowest in the state and one of the lowest in the country.

Source: Courtesy of West Side Leadership Academy via Facebook

14. Indiana: Gary Community School Corporation
> Location: Lake County
> Annual per student spending: $11,195
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.7%

Gary, Indiana, is one of the poorest communities in the United States, which means that children in the Gary Community School Corporation district are among the most likely in the country to have their chances for academic success limited by poverty. The district’s 49.0% child poverty rate — compared to the state’s 15.7% rate and national 17.0% rate — is the highest in the state and one of the highest in the country.

Gary’s student-to-teacher ratio of 24.5 to 1 is well above the national average ratio of 16.1 to 1 and is one of the highest of any U.S. school district.

Source: Courtesy of MVAO Community School District via Facebook

15. Iowa: Maple Valley-Anthon Oto Community School District
> Location: Monona County
> Annual per student spending: $11,044
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 16.5%

The Maple Valley-Anthon Oto Community School District, located in western Iowa, ranks as the worst school district in Iowa. Students in the district are far less likely than those in other parts of the state to enroll in college level courses while in high school. Just 1.0% of high schoolers in Maple Valley are in an Advanced Placement classes compared to 15.4% of high school students across Iowa.

Children of college-educated parents are more likely than most others to succeed academically, and in the Maple Valley district, just 16.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, well below the 28.2% share of adults statewide.