SmartAsset: Best K-12 Schools Are in the Northeast

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According to data collected and released by technology company SmartAsset, the best schools in the United States are in the northeast, while the west is in need of improvement.

In order to find this data, the company looked at ten educational metrics with a specific focus on how well schools are preparing students for college.  Metrics included the number of students who participated in the SAT, ACT and AP exams, as well as the average scores for each of the tests.

State-level per-student funding was also taken into consideration, as well as the student-teacher ratio, the high school dropout rate, and the percentage of high school graduates who go on to attend college.

The key finding of the study was that the best schools in the country are located in the Northeast.

“Led by Connecticut, each of the top four states in our study is located in the northeast, and seven of the top ten are on the east coast,” the article said. “Most notable among these states was the high rate of college-attendance. In New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, over 70 percent of high school graduates attend college within 12 months of graduating.”

In addition, it was discovered that, for the most part, schools in the West have quite a bit to work on.

“The west is home to all four of the lowest-grading states in our study, and six of the eight states that received an overall F are west of the continental divide,” the article said. “Washington, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada all have below average college-attendance rates, below average per-student spending levels and higher-than-average student-teacher ratios.”

The results show more than just the potential earnings of students once they graduate college.  A correlation has been shown between financial investment in students and higher high school and college graduation rates.  Each of the top four states have high investment rates reaching far above the national average, as they spend about $16,000 per student compared to the national average of $12,800.

When the contributions of all three levels of government – federal, state and local - are taking into consideration, about $500 billion is spent on K-12 education every year in the US.  About 10% of that comes from the federal government, leaving the rest up to state and local governments.

“State governments have an especially important role,” the report says. “They maintain standards for curriculum, make sure that school districts with faltering local tax bases are adequately funded and assess the efficacy of public schools by administering statewide achievement tests.”