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Best & Worst School Systems

Best & Worst School Systems

States with Best & Worst School Systems

When we talk about success, we usually think of the greatest school that can then lead to a good opportunity for college. However, approximately only 10% of the nation’s total school-age population attend private schools, meaning that for the majority of U.S families, public school is the only option. The quality of education varies extensively from each state, revealing that even states who fund the most in their education system, don’t have the best results in student security.

We compared all 50 states across 42 key indicators to determine which state has the best school system. The data set considers a depth of topics, ranging from metrics that measure how much a student is allowed to succeed, to metrics that measure the school’s quality.

Rankings of States with Best & Worst School Systems

Category Breakdown

Methodology

In order to determine the best and worst school systems per state, Scholaroo compared the 50 states across three key dimensions:

  1. Student Success
  2. Student Safety
  3. School Quality

We evaluated those dimensions using 42 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weight. Each metric was graded on a 100 point scale, with a score of 100 being the max.

Finally, we determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Student Success (50 Points)

High School Graduation Rate: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Public High School 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) through 2018-2019.

High School Dropout Rate: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of high school dropouts among persons 16 to 24 years old (status dropout rate) in 2019.

SAT Scores: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the SAT mean scores of High School Seniors in 2020.

ACT Scores: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the average ACT score (Composite score: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science scores) of Graduates in 2020.

College-Going Rates: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of High School graduates going directly to College in 2018.

Reading Test Scores: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the Average of Scale Scores between 4th and 8th Grade Reading scores, 2019.

Math Test Scores: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the Average of Scale Scores between 4th and 8th Grade Mathematics scores, 2019.

AP Exam Participation: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of graduates who took an AP exam during High School, 2020.

AP Exam Scores: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of the Class of 2020 scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam during High School.

Students in Gifted Programs: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of public students enrolled in gifted/talented programs, School Year 2017-18.

Class Suspension Rates: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the number of days missed due to suspension (per School), School Year 2017-18.

Expulsion Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of student expulsions (per school), School Year 2017-18.

Retention Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of 8th Grade students retained (per school), School Year 2017-18.

Student Participation in Sports: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Student Safety (20 Points)

Bullying Rate: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of High School students who were bullied on school property, 2019.

Exposure to Illegal Drugs: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of High School students who were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property, 2019.

Absence of Students due to Safety Concerns: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of High School students who did not go to school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school, 2019.

Bullying and Sexual Harassment Prevention: Double Weight (4.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools where all school staff received professional development on preventing, identifying, and responding to student bullying and sexual harassment, 2018.

Sexual Assault Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Sexual Assault, School Year 2017-18.

Rape or Attempted Rape Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Rape or Attempted Rape, School Year 2017-18.

Robbery with a Weapon Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of robbery with a Weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Robbery with a firearm or explosive Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of robbery with a firearm or explosive, School Year 2017-18.

Robbery without a weapon Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of robbery without a weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Physical attack or fight with a weapon Rate: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of physical attacks or fights with a weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Physical attack or fight with a firearm or explosive device Rate: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of physical attacks or fights with a firearm or explosive, School Year 2017-18.

Physical attack without a weapon: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of physical attacks without a weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Threats of physical attack with a weapon: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of threats of physical attacks with a weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Threats of physical attack with a firearm or explosive device: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of threats of physical attacks with a firearm or explosive device, School Year 2017-18.

Threats of physical attack without a weapon: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of threats of physical attacks without a weapon, School Year 2017-18.

Possession of a firearm or explosive device: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of possession of a firearm or explosive device, School Year 2017-18.

School Quality (30 Points)

Annual per-pupil spending: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the annual per-pupil spending in Public Elementary-Secondary School System Finances, 2019.

School Rankings: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of presence of Public High Schools in the Top 1000 Best U.S Schools by U.S. News & World Report.

Pupil/ Teacher Ratio: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the pupil/teacher ratios in public elementary and secondary schools, Fall 2018.

Presence of Guidance Counselors: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the number of guidance counselors per Public High Schools, School Year 2017-18.

Presence of School Health Councils: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools that had one or more School Health Councils, 2018.

Full-Time Registered Nurse: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools that have a Full-Time Registered Nurse who provides Health Services to students in 2018.

Health Education Curriculum: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools that required Health Education Instruction in any of grades 6–12, 2018.

Healthy Eating Curriculum: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools in which Teachers taught the benefits of healthy eating, 2018.

Sexual Health Curriculum: Half Weight (1.22 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of Secondary Schools in which Teachers taught all 20 sexual health topics (including topics related to how HIV and STD’s are transmitted, contraception methods, sexual orientation, gender expression, creating and sustaining healthy relationships, sexual risk behaviors, etc) in a Required Course in Any of Grades 9, 10, 11, or 12, 2018.

Teachers’ meeting State Licensing Requirements: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of teachers that meet all State Licensing/Certification requirements, School Year 17-18.

Level of Experienced Teachers: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of teachers with 3 or more years of experience, School Year 2017-18.

Average Teachers' Salary: Regular Weight (2.44 points)

Note: This metric measures the cost of living adjusted to the average teacher salary, 2021.