With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently facing criticism for her guidance on the new Every Student Succeeds Act and state governments contributing nearly half of public-school funding, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s States with the Best & Worst School Systems.

In order to determine the best school systems in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 21 key measures of quality and safety. The data set ranges from pupil-teacher ratio to dropout rate to median standardized-test scores.

States with the Best School Systems States with the Worst School Systems
1 Massachusetts 42 Tennessee
2 New Jersey 43 Oregon
3 New Hampshire 44 Alabama
4 Wisconsin 45 Alaska
5 Vermont 46 Arkansas
6 Virginia 47 Mississippi
7 Minnesota 48 District of Columbia
8 Connecticut 49 West Virginia
9 Iowa 50 New Mexico
10 Maine 51 Louisiana

Best vs. Worst

  • Iowa has the lowest dropout rate, 9.2 percent, which is 3.4 times lower than in the District of Columbia, registering the highest at 31.5 percent.
  • Vermont has the lowest pupil-teacher ratio, 10.55, which is 2.2 times lower than in California, registering the highest at 23.58.
  • Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin share the highest median SAT score, 613.33, which is 1.5 times higher than in the District of Columbia, registering the lowest at 396.67.
  • Massachusetts has the lowest share of high school students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, 4.06 percent, which is 2.6 times lower than in Arkansas, registering the highest at 10.60 percent.
  • The District of Columbia has the lowest share of high school students who were bullied online, 7.86 percent, which is 2.7 times lower than in Idaho, registering the highest at 21.08 percent.

To view the full report and your state or the District’s rank, please visit: