Jul 31, 2017

Best and worst public schools by state

Massachusetts has the best public schools in the country, per WalletHub, which looked at the overall quality and safety of public schools in each state according to 21 different factors.

Top 5: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Vermont

Worst 5: Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, D.C., Mississippi (See the full list, here.)

Spending: While 4 of the 5 top states for quality were among the 10 states who spend most on education, a higher level of spending did not necessarily correlate to higher quality of publics schools. For example, D.C. came in third for spending, but has some of the worst public schools according to the study.

Data: WalletHub; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
Data: WalletHub; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Factors: The study took into account graduation rates for low income students, drop out rates, median ACT and SAT scores, reading and math test scores, number of students participating in violence and number of reported bullying incidents among other factors.


  • Massachusetts came in first for both quality and safety in their public schools.
  • The northeastern U.S. hosts many of the top states for public schools, while the deep south has some of the worst schools.
  • D.C. had the lowest math test scores, reading test scores and SAT scores, and also the highest drop out rate. But D.C. schools have the least bullying.
  • Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont were all among the 10 states who spend the most on their education systems. But, D.C. was third in spending on its education system, but still has some of the lowest quality public schools.
  • D.C. (highest) has three times the dropout rate of Iowa (lowest).
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