Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Springfield Public Schools - Massachusetts

21. Massachusetts: Springfield Public Schools
> Location: Hampden County
> Annual per student spending: $15,838
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 18.6%

Public schools in Massachusetts are generally high performing compared to the average district nationwide, but the Springfield City district ranks as the worst in the state in terms of opportunity for success among students in the district. Part of the reason the district ranks so poorly is due to conditions outside the classroom. The stress associated with poverty has a significant negative impact on academic performance, and Springfield’s child poverty rate of 37.7% is the highest of any district in the state.

High school students in the district are less likely to take college level courses than most high schoolers in Massachusetts, and those who do are less likely to master the material. Some 13.0% of high schoolers in the district are enrolled in an AP class, and only 27.7% of them pass their exams — each well below the corresponding statewide rates of 20.1% and 69.6%.

Source: Courtesy of River Rouge Schools

22. Michigan: River Rouge School District
> Location: Wayne County
> Annual per student spending: $11,862
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 8.3%

The River Rouge City School District is located in the southern part of the Detroit metropolitan area. High schoolers in the district are far less likely than students statewide to take Advanced Placement classes. Just 3.0% of high school students in the district are enrolled in an AP class, well below the 19.7% state average.

Students in the district are also far more likely than most to face hardships outside of the classroom that can negatively impact academic performance. For example, a staggering 47.4% of school-aged children in the area live below the poverty line, well above the 17.5% child poverty rate across Michigan.

Source: Courtesy of Red Lake Secondary Complex

23. Minnesota: Red Lake Public Schools
> Location: Beltrami County
> Annual per student spending: $19,750
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 5.9%

K-12 spending in Minnesota’s Red Lake School District is relatively high, at nearly $20,000 per student, but students face a number of obstacles to academic success, despite the relatively high funding.

Just 5.9% of adults in the district have a bachelor’s degree, which is one of the lowest shares of any district in the state or the country. In Minnesota, 35.4% of adults have a bachelor’s degree.

Source: Courtesy of Holmes County Consolidated School District

24. Mississippi: Holmes County School District
> Location: Holmes County
> Annual per student spending: $8,439
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.3%

The Holmes County School District ranks as the worst in the state of Mississippi. Smaller class sizes have been shown to improve education outcomes in some cases, and in Holmes County, there are 17.3 students per teacher, higher than the 15.1 to 1 student-teacher ratio across Mississippi. Per pupil spending in the district is also slightly below average. According to Niche, only 15% of district students are proficient in reading, and just 9% are proficient in math.

Source: Courtesy of Caruthersville School District #18

25. Missouri: Caruthersville School District 18
> Location: Pemiscot County
> Annual per student spending: $8,379
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.7%

In Missouri’s Caruthersville School District, annual per pupil spending is just $8,379, one of the lowest per pupil spending figures in both the state and the country. For context, per pupil spending nationwide is $12,201.

Growing up with parents who have a college education can improve chances for academic success. However, in the district, just 13.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the nationwide bachelor’s degree attainment rate.