Special Report

The Worst School District in Each State

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Alabama: Eufaula City School District
> Location: Barbour County
> Annual per student spending: $5,298 (state: $10,077)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 38:1 (state: 18:1)
> Child poverty rate: 37.1% (state: 20.7%)

The Eufaula City School District in Alabama’s Barbour County ranks as the worst school district in the state. A far larger than typical share of local students are at a considerable disadvantage, as the local child poverty rate of 37.1% is well above the 20.7% rate across Alabama. Students in households facing serious financial hardship are less likely to succeed academically than those in more financially secure environments.

Students in the district are also less likely to receive individualized attention and instruction as class sizes tend to be large. There are 38 students for every one teacher in the district, more than double the comparable ratio statewide of 18-to-1.

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Alaska: Lower Yukon School District
> Location: Kusilvak Census Area
> Annual per student spending: $31,575 (state: $18,394)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 16:1 (state: 18:1)
> Child poverty rate: 36.1% (state: 11.9%)

Alaska’s Lower Yukon School District ranks as the worst in the state largely due to disadvantages outside of the classroom. Children raised by college-educated parents or guardians are more likely to succeed academically. But in the Lower Yukon district, only 3.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 29.2% of adults statewide. Additionally, the district’s child poverty rate is 36.1%, more than triple the 11.9% child poverty rate across the state. Such serious financial hardship presents a considerable hurdle to academic achievement for many students in the area.

The school system itself also gets low marks from school district and neighborhood review website Niche for academics and college prep.

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Arizona: Gadsden School District 32
> Location: Yuma County
> Annual per student spending: $7,649 (state: $8,625)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 36:1 (state: 24:1)
> Child poverty rate: 34.3% (state: 18.1%)

The Gadsden School District in southern Arizona ranks as the worst district in the state for student success. More than one-third of area children live below the poverty line, well above the 18.1% state child poverty rate.

Students are also less likely to have individualized instruction as the district has relatively large class sizes. There are 36 students for every one teacher in the district, more than double the ratio statewide of 24-to-1.

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Arkansas: Forrest City School District
> Location: St. Francis County
> Annual per student spending: $11,655 (state: $10,388)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 16:1 (state: 13:1)
> Child poverty rate: 39.2% (state: 19.9%)

The Forrest City School District in eastern Arkansas ranks as the district where children are least likely to succeed in the state. Children living below the poverty line are more likely to struggle academically, and in the Forrest City district, nearly 40% of the under 18 population live in poverty, compared to less than 20% of children in the state.

Children raised by parents with a college degree are statistically more likely to succeed academically than those with parents with lower educational attainment. In the Forrest City district, just 10.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the 22.6% share of adults across Arkansas who do.

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California: Mendota Unified School District
> Location: Fresno County
> Annual per student spending: $12,746 (state: $14,035)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: N/A (state: 23:1)
> Child poverty rate: 42.7% (state: 15.2%)

Students in the Mendota Unified School District in central California face greater disadvantages to academic success than those in every other district in the state. At $12,746 a year, per-student spending in the district falls short of the statewide average of $14,035. Low spending likely partially explains why the district gets low marks for its resources and facilities from school district and neighborhood review website Niche.

Children of college-educated parents are more likely to succeed academically than those whose parents have lower educational attainment. In the Mendota Unified School District, only about one in every 50 adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to about one in every three adults across California.

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