Special Report

The Worst School District in Each State

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Massachusetts: Chelsea School District
> Location: Suffolk County
> Annual per student spending: $15,676 (state: $17,748)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 15:1 (state: 13:1)
> Child poverty rate: 28.1% (state: 11.5%)

The Chelsea School District, located just north of Boston, ranks as the worst district in Massachusetts. The reduced likelihood of success in the district is due largely to conditions outside the classroom. Children growing up in financially insecure households face greater challenges to academic success than those in more stable households, and across the district, 28.1% of children live in poverty, well above the 11.5% statewide child poverty rate.

Children with college-educated parents are more likely to do well in school than those with parents with lower educational attainment. In the Chelsea district, just 18.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 42.9% of adults across Massachusetts.

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Michigan: River Rouge School District
> Location: Wayne County
> Annual per student spending: $11,349 (state: $12,756)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 26:1 (state: 18:1)
> Child poverty rate: 46.0% (state: 16.3%)

Michigan’s River Rouge School District, located just south of Detroit, ranks as the worst district in the state. Neighborhood and school district review site Niche gives River Rouge low marks for its academics and college prep.

Economic conditions in the district are perhaps the largest hindrance to academic success, however. Poverty is a predictor of poor academic performance, and 46.0% of all children in the area live below the poverty line, compared to the child poverty rate of 16.3% across the state.

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Minnesota: Worthington Public School District
> Location: Nobles County
> Annual per student spending: $10,566 (state: $13,387)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 22:1 (state: 16:1)
> Child poverty rate: 14.3% (state: 10.4%)

The Worthington Public School District, located in southwestern Minnesota, ranks as the worst district in the state. Per pupil spending in the distinct totals just $10,566 a year, well below the $13,387 state average. While greater investment in education is no guarantee of improved outcomes, it can translate to certain advantages, such as small class sizes. In the Worthington district, there are 22 students per teacher, which is well above the student-teacher ratio of 16:1 across the state.

The district also gets low marks from school district and neighborhood review website Niche for academics and resources and facilities.

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Mississippi: North Bolivar Consolidated School District
> Location: Bolivar County
> Annual per student spending: $10,199 (state: $9,284)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 15:1 (state: 15:1)
> Child poverty rate: 59.7% (state: 26.4%)

The North Bolivar Consolidated School District ranks as the worst school district in Mississippi. The reduced likelihood of success in the district is due largely to conditions outside the classroom. Children growing up in financially insecure households face greater challenges to academic success than those in more financially stable households, and across the district, 59.7% of children live in poverty, well above the 26.4% statewide child poverty rate.

The district also gets low marks from school district and neighborhood review website Niche for academics, college prep, clubs and activities, and resources and facilities.

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Missouri: Hayti R-II School District
> Location: Pemiscot County
> Annual per student spending: $9,945 (state: $11,200)
> Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1 (state: 13:1)
> Child poverty rate: 43.8% (state: 15.9%)

Hayti R-II is a small school district of fewer than 700 students in Missouri’s southeastern corner. According to state standardized test scores, just 22% of students in the district are proficient in reading, and only 12% are proficient in math. According to school district review site Niche, the district lags in important measures indicative of academic quality and preparing students for college.

Other disadvantages in the district are outside of the classroom. Students living in poverty are less likely to succeed academically than those in more financially secure households, and in the Hayti district, 43.8% of children live below poverty line, more than double the 15.9% state poverty rate.

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