Few aspects play a more important role in a child’s development than their educational experience. But among the nearly 50 million American public school students in grades K-12, the quality of that experience varies considerably.
Key measures – ranging from annual budgets to graduation rates, and everything in between – show that there is no shortage of struggling school districts in the United States. Many public school districts across the country are understaffed, underfunded, and underperforming. (Here is a look at the best private high schools in America.)
Still, there are also school districts that are notable for the opposite reasons. These districts have a track record of high graduation rates, and they offer students updated facilities, a range of extracurricular activity options, and a dedicated teaching staff.
Using data compiled by Niche, an education research platform, 24/7 Wall St. identified the best public school district in each state for 2023. Niche ranked school districts based on a weighted index of seven measures, including self-reported standardized test scores, parent and student surveys, extracurricular activities, and indicators of teacher quality. A full description of each measure and its weighting is available here.
School districts in the United States are often funded largely at the local level, and many of the districts on this list are in relatively wealthy areas, with a strong tax base to draw from. Several school districts on this list, including those in California, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia, have median household incomes in excess of $100,000. In New York, the top ranking school district is in a town where most households earn over $200,000. (Here is a look at the richest school district in each state.)
It is important to note that state governments have considerable leverage over education policy and that overall school quality can vary considerably from one state to the next. Partially as a result, high-ranking districts in some states may rank less favorably when compared to districts in other states. For example, the best school district in Mississippi ranks 286th in the nation. Meanwhile, three of the five highest rated school districts nationwide are in New York state.
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