Special Report

The Worst School District in Each State

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Hawaii: Hawaii Department of Education
> Location: Honolulu County
> Annual per student spending: $16,132 (state: $16,132)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 15:1 (state: 15:1)
> Child poverty rate: 10.5% (state: 10.5%)

The whole of Hawaii is covered by a single school district, and as a result, the Hawaii Public School district, which manages nearly 300 schools and has over 180,000 students, ranks as the worst district in the state by default.

In fact, by some key measures, public school students in Hawaii are on better footing for success than most public school students nationwide. For example, there are an average of 15 students for every teacher in the district, one fewer than the national average. Additionally, Hawaii’s child poverty rate of 10.5% is well below the 15.8% national average.

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Idaho: Oneida County School District 351
> Location: Oneida County
> Annual per student spending: $5,345 (state: $7,985)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 21:1 (state: 18:1)
> Child poverty rate: 12.3% (state: 11.2%)

The Oneida County School District is located near the southeast corner of Idaho. The district ranks as the worst in the state in part because of larger than average class sizes, which can make individualized instruction less likely. There are an average of 21 students for every teacher in the district, compared to 18 for every teacher across the state

The district’s large class sizes are attributable in part to relatively low investment. Per pupil spending in the district totals just $5,345 a year, well below the per pupil education spending statewide of $7,985 nationwide of $13,187.

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Illinois: Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144
> Location: Cook County
> Annual per student spending: $13,082 (state: $16,227)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 20:1 (state: 15:1)
> Child poverty rate: 31.6% (state: 14.6%)

The Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144, located just outside of Chicago, enrolls just under 3,000 students in grades PK-8. With a child poverty rate of 31.6%, the district ranks as having the worst conditions in the state for children’s academic success. Students in Prairie Hills are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as the typical student in Illinois as a whole, putting them at a possible considerable disadvantage academically as poverty can be a hurdle to academic success.

Class sizes are also larger than average in the district, with an average of 20 students per teacher — 25% more than the comparable average across the state.

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Indiana: Union School Corporation
> Location: Randolph County
> Annual per student spending: $4,188 (state: $10,397)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 22:1 (state: 17:1)
> Child poverty rate: 16.8% (state: 13.9%)

The Union School Corporation in east-central Indiana ranks as the worst district in the state. According to state test scores, 25% of students are proficient in reading and only 12% are proficient in math.

At just $4,188, annual per pupil spending in the district is less than half the statewide average. Partially as a result, class sizes are larger than average, meaning students are less likely to receive individualized instruction. There are 22 students for every teacher in the district, compared to the statewide ratio of 17-to-1.

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Iowa: Clayton Ridge Community School District
> Location: Clayton County
> Annual per student spending: $9,536 (state: $11,907)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 26:1 (state: 14:1)
> Child poverty rate: 10.4% (state: 11.7%)

Clayton Ridge Community School District located in eastern Iowa ranks as the worst district in the state. Small class sizes can improve chances for academic success, but in Clayton Ridge, classes are large. There are an average of 26 students for every teacher in the district, well above the student-teacher ratio of 14:1 across the state.

According to neighborhood and school district review site Niche, Clayton Ridge ranks poorly for college prep, academics, and clubs and activities.

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