Special Report

The Best School District in Every State

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Alabama: Mountain Brook City School District
> Location: Jefferson County
> Annual per student spending: $14,059 (state: $10,077)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1 (state: 18:1)

Mountain Brook City School District, located in the Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook, ranks as the best public school district in Alabama. Students in the district benefit from smaller than average class sizes, with a districtwide average student-teacher ratio of 13-to-1, compared to the average ratio across Alabama of 18-to-1.

The greater likelihood of future success for students in the district is also a product of conditions outside of the classroom. For example, poverty can greatly reduce a child’s chance for academic success, and in the Mountain Brook district, 5.8% of children live below the poverty line, compared to Alabama’s 20.7% child poverty rate.

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Alaska: North Slope Borough School District
> Location: North Slope Borough
> Annual per student spending: $36,416 (state: $18,394)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1 (state: 18:1)

The North Slope Borough School District, located in northern Alaska, ranks as the best district in the state. Smaller class sizes allow students to receive more individualized instruction, and with an average of 13 students for every teacher, the North Slope Borough School District has a considerable edge over public schools in Alaska as a whole, where the average student to teacher ratio is 18-to-1.

The district also invests more on education than many other districts in the state. Annual per pupil spending totals $36,416, well above the $18,394 state average.

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Arizona: Sedona-Oak Creek Joint Unified District
> Location: Coconino County
> Annual per student spending: $20,576 (state: $8,625)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 17:1 (state: 24:1)

Sedona-Oak Creek Joint Unified District, a rural district in Coconino County, Arizona, outranks every other school district in the state in child success. Advantages outside of the classroom include a greater likelihood of academic support at home, as 46.1% of area adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28.9% of adults in Arizona.

The school system itself also offers students some notable advantages, including smaller than average class sizes and greater than average per-pupil spending.

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Arkansas: Fayetteville School District
> Location: Washington County
> Annual per student spending: $11,084 (state: $10,388)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 14:1 (state: 13:1)

The Fayetteville School District, which has over 10,000 students, ranks as the best district in Arkansas. According to reviews and data compiled by school review website Niche, the district gets high marks for academics, teacher quality, and college prep.

Many advantages the district has are outside of the classroom, however. For example, poverty can greatly reduce a child’s chance for academic success, and in the Fayetteville district, 12.3% of children live below the poverty line, compared to Arkansas’ 19.9% child poverty rate.

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California: Palo Alto Unified School District
> Location: Santa Clara County
> Annual per student spending: $23,038 (state: $14,035)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: N/A (state: 23:1)

The Palo Alto Unified School District in California’s Silicon Valley ranks as the best district in the state for student success. Students in the area are far more likely than students in most other California districts to live in home environments with college-educated adults — making them more likely to succeed academically. Nearly 85%% of adults in the district have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 33.3% of adults in California.

Palo Alto is also a wealthy area, meaning the district has a strong tax base to fund operations. Partially as a result, school spending in the area totals over $23,000 per pupil, compared to $14,035 across California.