Washington state's schools ranked No. 31 in nation

Washington state has 21st-worst school system in America, according to a new report from WalletHub.

The personal finance website compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 key metrics to determine its rankings.

Among the metrics examined by WalletHub: performance, funding, safety, class size, and instructor credentials.

With a total score of 47.46, Washington came in at No. 31 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez delved into the Evergreen State’s placement on the list.

“Washington's public school system ranks in the second half, despite the high spending,” she pointed out in an email to The Center Square. “The state has a small number of blue ribbon schools per capita, a low high school graduation rate among low income students, just above 72%, and a high dropout rate, almost 19%.”

Gonzalez went on to say, “It also has the second lowest share of high school graduates who completed ACT and/or SAT at 35% and a high pupil-teacher ratio.”

Average per-student funding in Washington is $18,175, according to 2021-2022 school year budget numbers from fiscal.wa.gov, the state’s revenue and expenditure data website.

That compares to the national average of $14,418 per pupil to fund K-12 education, according to Education Data Initiative statistics from last year.

Critics say the higher spending isn’t producing the desired return on investment. Last year’s student testing showed broad declines in English and math from the last pre-COVID-19 tests taken in 2019.

Statewide assessments administered last fall and published earlier this year by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction showed 70% of students failed to meet the standard in math, while 52% of students failed to meet the standard in English.

It wasn’t all bad news on the basic education front for Washington.

“On the other hand, Washington ranked high for the projected high school graduation rate increase between the 2021-2022 and 2032-2033 school years of almost 8%,” Gonzalez said.

In fact, Washington state did very well in one particular area.

“School safety is where Washington ranks in the top five,” Gonzalez noted. “This is because it has a digital learning plan, provides guidance on accessible technologies for instructional content, has laws regulating mandatory school resource officers and a school safety audit requirement.”

Washingtonians can also take some solace in the fact their state did better than its Pacific Northwest neighbors.

WalletHub ranked Idaho at No. 37. Oregon fared even worse, coming in at No. 44 – eighth worst in the nation.

The 10 states with the best school systems:

1. Massachusetts

2. Connecticut

3. New Jersey

4. Virginia

5. Maryland

6. Delaware

7. New Hampshire

8. North Dakota

9. Nebraska

10. Wisconsin

The 10 states with the worst school systems:

51. New Mexico

50. Alaska

49. Louisiana

48. Arizona

47. West Virginia

46. South Carolina

45. Oklahoma

44. Oregon

43. Mississippi

42. Alabama

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