16. Kansas: Blue Valley Schools
> Location: Johnson County
> Annual per student spending: $9,850
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 70.2%
The Blue Valley Unified School District has one of the highest graduation rates of any school district with at least 500 students. Nearly all ninth graders in the district — over 96% — graduate high school in four years, well above the 84.5% statewide graduation rate.
Children of college-educated parents are more likely to be academically successful than children of parents who never went to college. Across the district, 70.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, well above the 32.9% share of adults across the state as a whole.
17. Kentucky: Beechwood Independent Schools
> Location: Kenton County
> Annual per student spending: $8,964
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 57.3%
Children growing up in poverty face unique hardships and stressors that can have a negative impact on academic performance. However, such conditions are rare in Kentucky’s Beechwood Independent School District. Just 4.1% of area children live below the poverty line, a fraction of the 20.5% statewide child poverty rate.
With most students not saddled with financial hardship, certain academic outcomes are indeed better than average in the school district. For example, the district’s high school graduation rate is over 93%.
18. Louisiana: Orleans Parish Schools
> Location: Orleans Parish
> Annual per student spending: $12,761
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.8%
The Orleans Parish School District in Louisiana, which covers much of the greater New Orleans area, ranks as the district where students are most likely to succeed in the state. Public school spending per student in the district is $12,761, above the $11,199 average spending across the state as a whole.
While higher spending does not necessarily translate to better outcomes, the higher spending likely contributes to smaller class sizes in Orleans Parish. The district’s student-to-teacher ratio of 16.9 to 1 is well below the 17.8 to 1 state ratio.
19. Maine: Falmouth School Department
> Location: Cumberland County
> Annual per student spending: $15,663
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 69.0%
Smaller class sizes have been linked to better outcomes. In Maine’s Falmouth School District, located in Cumberland County just outside of Portland, there are 11.5 students per teacher, below the 12.2 to 1 state average ratio and the 16.1 to 1 national average ratio.
Students enrolled in the district are also more likely than those in most other Maine public school districts to graduate high school. More than 90% of high school ninth graders in Falmouth graduate in four years.
20. Maryland: Howard County Public School System
> Location: Howard County
> Annual per student spending: $15,921
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 61.4%
Maryland’s Howard County School district, located just outside of Baltimore, ranks as the best in the state due in large part to conditions outside of the classroom. For example, while the stressors associated with serious financial hardship can detract considerably from academic performance, just 5.7% of children in the district live below the poverty line, compared to 11.4% of children statewide. Additionally, children of college-educated parents are more likely to be academically successful than children of parents who never went to college. Across the district, 61.4% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the largest share of any school district in Maryland.