For the second consecutive year, Connecticut ranks first in the U.S. for its K-12 education system, according to a new ranking of states, one of only four states to earn an “A” on the annual report card. An analysis by the financial website SmartAsset found that 75 percent of Connecticut high school graduates go on to attend college within 12 months of graduation, the third-highest college attendance rate in the U.S. Connecticut also has the seventh-highest rate of participation in the advanced placement (AP) program, with 42 percent of 11th and 12th graders taking an AP class in 2015. Of those, more than 70 percent scored at least a 3 on their exam, the second-best percentage in the U.S. (A 3 is generally the minimum score required to be eligible for college credit from an AP class.)
Following Connecticut in the top ten are New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Delaware, the only other states to receive an “A”, followed by North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Nebraska, Montana and Virginia. Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts also ranked 1-2-3 a year ago.
"According to the National Education Association, Connecticut's public school revenue per student is $19,262, which places it fifth in the country when it comes to funding per student. Additionally, Connecticut ties with Nebraska for the ninth-best student-teacher ratio in the U.S., with roughly 13 students for every teacher," pointed out SmartAsset Data Editor Nick Wallace.
To determine which states have the best schools, SmartAsset reviewed seven metrics of school quality and performance in all 50 states. Along with the overall graduation rate in each state, they looked at measures such as the percentage of students taking a college entrance exam, the percentage of students taking an advanced placement test and the student-teacher ratio.
There was a significant negative correlation (-44 percent) between the student-teacher ratio in states and the graduation rate, the analysis indicated. States with a lower student-teacher ratio tended to have a higher graduation rate. Seven of the eight states that received an F in SmartAsset’s analysis are in the western U.S. Nevada, Arizona and Oregon, for example, have student-teacher ratios that are higher than average and graduation rates that are lower than average.
Since public school districts are funded and administered at the state and local level, there are large disparities between states when it comes to school performance, the website pointed out. While the national high school graduation rate is about 80 percent, a handful of states have a graduation rate of 90 percent. Connecticut’s rage is 87 percent. At the bottom of the graduation rate list are New Mexico, at 69 percent and Nevada at 70 percent.