Washington ranked No. 34 for states with most equitable school districts

A new WalletHub study ranked Washington at No. 34 on a list of states with the most equitable school districts in the nation.

The personal finance website ranked 49 states – Hawaii was excluded from analysis due to data limitations – by scoring 12,876 school districts throughout the U.S. on two metrics: average household income and spending for public and secondary schools per pupil.

Data for the study was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics.

According to WalletHub, “In many states, more affluent school districts receive a greater amount of funding per student than poorer districts, with one estimate claiming that low-income districts are underfunded by around $6,700 per pupil.”

The study goes on to note, “Discrepancies between the rich and poor have been exacerbated even more due to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income students have suffered the greatest ‘learning loss’ due to partial or total remote learning. One contributing factor is that people in low-income districts are less likely to have the technological resources they need.”

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained Washington’s ranking.

“Washington has the 16th least equitable school districts in the U.S. overall,” she told The Center Square via email. “This is because compared to other states, Washington has significantly more school districts where funding is not equitably distributed.”

WalletHub’s look into the most and least equitable school districts in the nation included reports on individual states.

In Washington’s case, that meant ranking 292 school districts.

“At the same time, the least equitable school districts in Washington have a very high disparity between income and expenditures,” Gonzalez continued. “For example, for Shaw Island, the least equitable school district, the household income is just 1% above state average, while expenditures are over 260% above average.”

Shaw Island School District, located in the San Juan Islands, spent $58,600 for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil, compared with an in-district average household income of $66,667.

“By comparison, the most equitable school district is Chimacum, where the income is 1% below state average and spending is 1% above average,” Gonzalez said.

The Chimacum School District, located in Jefferson County in the center of the eastern Olympic Peninsula, spent $16,416 for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil, compared with an in-district average household income of $65,061.”

The Evergreen State’s Pacific Northwest neighbors fared worse on WalletHub’s list.

Idaho was ranked No. 40 and Oregon came in at No. 45.

The 10 states with the most equitable school districts:

1. Iowa

2. Arkansas

3. North Carolina

4. Indiana

5. Florida

6. West Virginia

7. Mississippi

8. Minnesota

9. South Carolina

10. Kansas

The 10 states with the least equitable school districts:

49. New York

48. California

47. Montana

46. Illinois

45. Oregon

44. Arizona

43. New Jersey

42. Maine

41. Massachusetts

40. Idaho

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