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These states have the best school systems in the US, according to new data

uni students standing outside
  • Massachusetts tops the list of the states with the best school systems
  • New Jersey and Connecticut follow in second and third place, respectively
  • Arizona is revealed to be the state with the worst school system

New research has revealed the states with the best school systems, with Massachusetts taking the top spot.

Educational resource site Teach Simple gathered data from sources including the National Center for Education Statistics to analyze factors like bullying rate, academic performance, and pupil-to-teacher ratio. Each factor was awarded a score of 10 to determine the ranking.

RankStateFinal Index Score
2New Jersey69.19
4New York62.31

Massachusetts places first in the ranking, with a final score of 71.54. The state received the highest possible score of 10 for the average mathematics score in Grade 8 at 283.59, as well as a score of 10 for the average ACT score, this being 26.50. Massachusetts scored 9.59 for the low bullying rate, with 14.61% of public-school students from Grades 9 to 12 reporting bullying on school property.

New Jersey places second on the list, taking a score of 69.19. New Jersey scored 10 in multiple categories; the average score in Grade 8 being 269.78 for reading and 175.33 for writing, the rate of students possessing firearms being just 0.43%, and the public expenditure on student support, food services, and transportation at $3,625 per pupil.

In third place is Connecticut, earning a score of 62.80. Like Massachusetts, pupils in Connecticut also received high ACT scores, with an average of 26.30 – this earned the state a score of 9.78. In addition, Connecticut’s pupil-to-teacher ratio is 12:2, achieving a score of 8.57.

Taking the fourth spot is New York, with a final score of 62.31. New York has the highest number of books in public libraries, approximately 64,494, earning a score of 10. Additionally, New York received a score of 10 for average salary of public school teachers, which is $92,222.

Maryland ranks in fifth place, with a final score of 58.48. The rate of students expelled in public schools is low in this state, 0.05% to be exact, resulting in a score of 8.54 for this factor. On top of this, the Old Line State earned a score of 8.41 for the low rate of high school dropouts at just 4.08%.

Sixth place goes to Iowa, with a final score of 58.19. Iowa has accumulated a score of 10 for having the highest public school graduation rate of 92%; the Hawkeye State also received a high score of 8.05 for the low rate of students suspended in public schools, which is 3.49%.

Maine is in seventh place, which has a final score of 58.12. Maine has been awarded a score of 9.41 for the impressive pupil-to-teacher ratio of 11:2; there are also 19.26 public libraries per 100,000 students in Maine, which gives the state a score of 9.19 in this category.

Following closely behind is Virginia in eighth place, with a final score of 57.34. Virginia’s public school students from Grades 9 to 12 reported low bullying rates compared to other states; 15.67% of pupils reported bullying on school property, while 12.59% reported bullying online, earning scores of 8.74 and 7.77, respectively.

In ninth place is Pennsylvania, which has a final score of 55.52. One of Pennsylvania’s highest-scoring categories was for the number of books in public libraries, this being a score of 7.54 for 23,930 books. In addition, a score of 8.52 was awarded to Pennsylvania for the percentage of students who possessed a firearm at school, which was 1.25%.

Last on the list is Wisconsin in tenth place, with a score of 55.43. Wisconsin has the highest possible score of 10 for the average SAT score of high school seniors, which is 1,252. The average mathematics score in Grade 8 is 281.14 in Wisconsin, resulting in a score of 9.

A spokesperson from Teach Simple has commented on the findings:

“The results of the study are undoubtedly reassuring for parents located in these top ten states, as they can have peace of mind knowing that their children are learning in an environment that will allow them to thrive, from strong pupil to teacher ratios to high ACT scores.”

It’s fascinating to see that out of the ten states in the ranking, seven of those reside on the East Coast; it will be interesting to monitor whether factors like bullying rate and dropout rate will decrease in the future in other regions of America, or whether the East Coast will continue to dominate.”

This information was provided by Teach Simple, who provide unlimited teaching resources created by teachers for teachers.


Sources: NCES & Nations Report Card

The above sources were used to obtain figures for the following factors:

  • Avg. NAEP Grade-8 Mathematics (2022)
  • Avg. NAEP Grade-8 Reading (2022)
  • Avg. NAEP Grade-8 Writing (2007)
  • Avg. NAEP Grade-8 Science (2015)
  • Avg. ACT Scores (Composite, 2022)
  • Avg. SAT Scores of High School Seniors (Total SAT, 2022)
  • % of High School Dropouts Among Persons 16-24 Years Old (2017-2021)
  • Public High School 4-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR, all students) (2019-20)
  • Number of Public Libraries (2019, per 100k)
  • Number of Books in Public Libraries (2019, per capita)
  • No. People in state-run Adult Education Programs (2021, per 100k)
  • Student to Faculty Ratio in Public Postsecondary Institutions (2021)
  • Est. Avg. Annual Salary of Public School Teachers (2021-22)
  • Pupil/Teacher Ratio (Public elementary / secondary schools, 2021)
  • Public Expenditure on Instruction (per pupil)
  • Public Expenditure on School Maintenance (per pupil)
  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition Fees (in-state, public, 4-year, 2021-22)
  • Public High School 4-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR, economically disadvantaged students) (2019-20)
  • Public Expenditure on Student Support, Food Services & Transportation (per pupil)
  • % of Students Eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch (public schools, 2021-22)
  • % of Students in Grades 9-12 Reporting Bullying on School Property (public schools, 2017)
  • % of Students in Grades 9-12 Reporting Bullying Electronically (public schools, 2017)
  • % of Students Suspended (public schools, 2017-18)
  • % of Students Expelled (public schools, 2017-18)
  • Students Who Possessed Firearms at School (per 100k, avg 2015/16-2019/20, public schools)

Each factor was awarded an index score out of 10, with 10 being the best possible score. These scores were combined to determine the ranking.

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