The Best Up-and-Coming School Districts in Every State

On Dec. 2, the House approved a sweeping bill to drastically overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, ending an era of major federal involvement in public education. Representative John Kline, R-Minn., who is also chairman of the House Education Committee, said in a statement that No Child Left Behind was “based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington knows what students need to succeed in school.”

With the onus of public school performance now shifting back to states and local districts, StartClass examined the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education to identify the primary “up-and-coming” public school district in each state.

The data is from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. To determine the top up-and-coming school district in every state, we focused on two factors: the change in percentile rank in proficiency rates on statewide math and reading tests, and the change in percentile rank in high school graduation rates.

We then calculated the average percentile rank improvement between the two metrics. We chose the district with the greatest increase as the biggest up-and-comer in the state.

Three states — Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma — are not included in this list because they were not required to report their graduation rates for the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, Hawaii was not included because it has just one school district. We also did not include school districts with fewer than 100 students participating in the state math and reading assessment.

It’s important to note that districts can see a decrease in achievement scores yet an increase in percentile rank. This occurs if the following year sees a decrease in the mean and standard deviation of state assessment scores across the districts in each state. Also, keep in mind that the sample size is only two school years, so the data could be influenced by a year-to-year fluctuation.


Check out the entire list here

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