Special Report

This is the Best School District in California

Every child is born to a unique set of circumstances that help shape who they become. While these environmental conditions are virtually countless, a small handful of factors play an outsized role in a child’s development and likelihood for future success.

Whether or not a child succeeds academically can depend considerably on school quality. A student who falls behind in one school district may have excelled academically in another. By no means limited to the classroom, many of the strongest influences on a child’s future are in the home environment, and the resources available — or absent — there.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index of four measures to determine the best school district in every state.

The Palo Alto Unified School District in California’s Silicon Valley ranks as the best district in the state for student success. Students in the area are far more likely than students in most other California districts to live in home environments with college educated adults — making them more likely to succeed academically. Nearly 85%% of adults in the district have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 33.3% of adults in California.

Palo Alto is also a wealthy area, meaning the district has a strong tax base to fund operations. Partially as a result, school spending in the area totals over $23,000 per pupil, compared to $14,035 across California.

The four measures used to determine the best school district in every state were the child poverty rate, the teacher-to-student ratio, per-pupil spending, and the share of adults with a college education. All data came from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics.

State District Enrollment Annual per-pupil spending($) Students per teacher Adults with a 4-yr. degree or higher (%)
Alabama Mountain Brook City 4,346 14,059 13 85.3
Alaska North Slope Borough 2,195 36,416 13 16.5
Arizona Sedona-Oak Creek Joint Unified 517 20,576 17 46.1
Arkansas Fayetteville 10,334 11,084 14 49.4
California Palo Alto Unified 11,992 23,038 N/A 84.7
Colorado Aspen 1 1,670 19,901 13 66.1
Connecticut Regional 12 683 35,082 9 57.7
Delaware Brandywine 10,470 17,615 14 44.2
Florida Sarasota County 43,111 11,595 15 35.4
Georgia Decatur City 5,734 12,851 13 74.3
Hawaii Hawaii Department of Education 181,278 16,132 15 33.0
Idaho Blaine County 61 3,467 15,661 13 35.4
Illinois Lisle Community Unit 202 1,421 27,166 12 50.1
Indiana West Lafayette Community 2,411 11,487 16 70.1
Iowa Gilbert Community 1,574 10,036 16 63.9
Kansas Blue Valley Unified 229 22,783 10,500 14 70.9
Kentucky Fort Thomas Independent 3,129 11,086 17 52.5
Louisiana Cameron Parish 1,341 18,521 11 12.7
Maine Falmouth 2,126 16,611 11 67.0
Maryland Howard County Publics 57,907 16,084 14 62.6
Massachusetts Cambridge 7,052 29,962 10 79.0
Michigan Bloomfield Hills 5,470 18,614 14 72.5
Minnesota Edina Public 8,510 12,813 19 73.2
Mississippi Madison County 13,302 9,653 14 54.9
Missouri Clayton 2,644 19,050 11 77.5
Montana Frenchtown K-12s 1,325 9,929 14 33.3
Nebraska Elkhorn Publics 9,857 9,672 16 59.3
Nevada Pershing County 658 18,427 9 11.1
New Hampshire Oyster River Cooperative 2,193 19,051 12 65.4
New Jersey Mountain Lakes Borough 1,404 29,737 9 85.8
New Mexico Los Alamos Publics 3,749 11,249 15 67.4
New York Byram Hills Central 2,319 35,160 10 81.0
North Carolina Chapel Hill-Carrboros 12,422 13,044 14 73.8
North Dakota Fargo Public 1 11,514 14,327 13 40.5
Ohio Orange City 2,047 24,437 14 74.2
Oklahoma Deer Creek Publics 6,646 9,048 18 58.9
Oregon Riverdale 51J 637 15,330 17 82.7
Pennsylvania Lower Merion 8,648 25,591 12 78.6
Rhode Island Narragansett 1,290 21,254 14 56.7
South Carolina York 4 16,081 9,576 15 49.7
South Dakota Harrisburg 41-2 4,841 9,448 14 40.9
Tennessee Williamson County 40,475 9,354 17 62.0
Texas Eanes Independent 8,132 10,251 13 81.8
Utah Park City 4,939 14,110 18 65.8
Vermont Hartford 1,522 23,359 9 48.0
Virginia Falls Church City Publics 2,620 19,222 15 77.6
Washington Mercer Island 4,522 14,986 18 78.2
West Virginia Monongalia 11,679 12,034 15 42.8
Wisconsin Gibraltar Area 531 21,292 10 50.6
Wyoming Teton County 1 2,881 18,496 12 57.0

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