Special Report

The Worst School District in Each State

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Colorado: Las Animas School District RE-1
> Location: Bent County
> Annual per student spending: $8,049 (state: $11,030)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 60:1 (state: 17:1)
> Child poverty rate: 31.8% (state: 10.7%)

The Las Animas School District in southeastern Colorado has the worst odds for student success in the state. The district’s per pupil spending of $8,049 is about $3,000 below the average across Colorado. Likely partially as a result, class sizes are typically large, with an average of 60 students per teacher — more than triple the average size statewide. The district also gets low marks from school district and neighborhood review website Niche for academics and college prep.

Children of college-educated parents are more likely to succeed academically than those whose parents have lower educational attainment. In the Las Animas School District, only 9.7% adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 40.1% of adults across Colorado.

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Connecticut: Waterbury School District
> Location: New Haven County
> Annual per student spending: $18,110 (state: $21,310)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1 (state: 12:1)
> Child poverty rate: 33.9% (state: 12.9%)

The Waterbury School District in Connecticut has the worst odds for student success of any district in the state. Children in households with poverty-level incomes are less likely to succeed academically than those in more financially secure home environments. In the district, located in New Haven County, children are nearly three times more likely to live below the poverty line than children across the state as a whole.

While investment in education alone is no guarantee of better outcomes, higher school spending can improve the quality of education. Per pupil spending in the Waterbury district is just $18,110 a year, over $3,000 below the state average of $21,310.

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Delaware: Woodbridge School District
> Location: Sussex County
> Annual per student spending: $15,027 (state: $16,315)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 15:1 (state: 14:1)
> Child poverty rate: 29.0% (state: 15.2%)

The Woodbridge School District, centrally located on the Delmarva Peninsula, ranks as the worst district in Delaware. The district’s 29.0% child poverty rate is nearly double the 15.2% rate across the state. Such serious financial hardship presents a considerable hurdle to academic achievement for many students in the area.

Disadvantages are also present inside the classroom. According to school district review website Niche, the school system itself does not compare favorably in several important categories, including academics and college prep.

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Florida: Hamilton County School District
> Location: Hamilton County
> Annual per student spending: $11,212 (state: $9,645)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 20:1 (state: 17:1)
> Child poverty rate: 40.9% (state: 16.9%)

The Hamilton County School District, in Florida’s Hamilton County, ranks as the worst school district in the state. Many students in the district may be at a major disadvantage academically due to severe financial insecurity at home as poverty conditions can be a hurdle to academic success. An estimated 40.9% of area children live below the poverty line, more than double the 16.9% state child poverty rate.

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

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Georgia: Treutlen County School District
> Location: Treutlen County
> Annual per student spending: $10,631 (state: $11,228)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1 (state: 15:1)
> Child poverty rate: 49.5% (state: 18.6%)

Conditions in the Treutlen County School District, located about 100 miles west of Savannah, make it the school district in Georgia with the worst conditions for children’s academic success. School district and neighborhood review site Niche gives the district low scores for its resources and facilities, college prep, academics, and clubs and activities.

Economic conditions in the district, however, are perhaps the largest hindrance to academic success. Poverty is a predictor of poor academic performance, and about half of all children in the area live below the poverty line.

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