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The State with the Worst Public School System in the US

We recently did a state-wise analysis of the quality of public school systems across the US and in this article we will discuss the state with the worst public school system. Check out our free report on the 20 States with the Worst Public School System in the US.

Overview of Education in the US

Although the United States is considered to be one of the best countries in the world in terms of education standards, the country has a diverse academic landscape. According to data by UNESCO, the United States spent $1.162 trillion on education as of 2020. The government’s expenditure on pre-primary education came up to 0.34% of its total GDP, while the same for primary and secondary education stood at 1.53% and 1.73% as of 2020, respectively. In addition, the country spends 1.81% of its total GDP on tertiary education as of the same year.

The United States held the fifth position in the list of expenditures per full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrolled in the OECD countries in elementary or secondary level institutions as of 2019, with a per student expenditure of $15,500. Luxembourg, Norway, Austria, and the Republic of Korea held the first positions. Luxembourg and Norway spent $25,600 and $18,000 on primary/secondary school education as of 2019, respectively, while Austria and the Republic of Korea spent $15,900 each as of the same year. However, since the expense per FTE student refers to the average amount spent on a student, the total expenditures may vary at local and state levels. That is precisely why different states in the US have varying per student expenditures on education. You can also look at

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30 Best Paying Jobs With High School Degrees for further insight.

Corporate Initiatives for Making Education Accessible

There are several companies working to improve education accessibility in the US. Take Amazon Inc, (NASDAQ:AMZN) for example. On April 17, Amazon Inc, (NASDAQ:AMZN) awarded the 2024 Amazon Future Engineer Scholarships worth $40,000 to five graduating seniors in high schools. The scholarship will enable the students to pursue a four-year engineering or computer science degree program. It will also offer them a paid internship opportunity after their freshman year, along with specialized mentorship from Amazon leaders.

Another example is Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The company's Live Better U (LBU) program promotes accessibility in education by incentivizing education for its employees. By partnering with top academic institutions like the University of Arkansas, Purdue Global, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Denver, and others, the company has helped its employees save over $500 million in college tuition. The program has helped more than 126,000 get a better education and choose their career path. Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) also announced an investment of about $1 billion to pay for its employees' tuition and textbooks between 2021 and 2026.

Now that we have discussed statistics related to the education situation in the US, let's talk about the state with the worst public school system.

State with the Worst Public School System in the US
State with the Worst Public School System in the US

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Our Methodology 

In order to compile our list of the 20 states with the worst public school systems in the US, we have considered the pupil-to-teacher ratio, SAT scores of high school seniors, and the per student expenditure on education by each state as the primary metrics. We then computed the average ranking of each state according to its position in the list of each of the three metrics, calling it the Insider Monkey Score. We chose the bottom 20 states as the ones with the worst public school systems in the US, with 7 being the lowest Insider Monkey Score for the state with the worst public school system in the US. We assumed that the US states with the worst public school systems in the US have a high pupil-to-student ratio, low SAT mean scores of high school seniors, and low per student expenditure on education. In cases where states have the same Insider Monkey Score, we have considered the percentage of the graduating class taking the SAT as a tie-breaker. We have assumed that the worst states for education have a low percentage of the graduating class taking the SAT.

Data for pupil-to-teacher ratio for full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers as of Fall 2021, SAT mean scores of high school seniors as of 2023, and current expenditures per student in average daily attendance in public elementary and secondary schools as of the academic year 2020-2021 have been taken from the National Center for Education Statistics. Data for the percentage of graduating class taking the SAT has also been taken from the National Center for Education Statistics. The 20 states with the worst public school systems in the US are arranged in ascending order of their Insider Monkey Score. You can also look at

22 Medical Schools with the Highest Acceptance Rates in America and

25 Least Competitive Dental Schools in America.

The State with the Worst Public School System

Oklahoma

Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio as of Fall 2021: 16.2

SAT Mean Scores of High School Seniors as of 2023: 953

Per Pupil Expenditure on Education as of 2020-2021: $12,326 (In Constant USD as of 2022-2023)

Insider Monkey Score: 7

% of Graduating Class Taking the SAT as of 2021: 18%

Our methodology revealed that Oklahoma is the state with the worst public school system in the US. The state has a 16.2 pupil-to-teacher ratio as of fall 2021, with 43,090 teachers and a total student enrollment of 698,696 in public elementary and secondary schools as of the same year. As of the academic year 2020-2021, Oklahoma spends about $12,326 on its per pupil education needs, with the amount considered in constant USD as of 2022-2023. With the total per pupil expense being the third lowest in the United States, Oklahoma is considered to have the worst public school system in the country. High school seniors enrolled in public high schools in the state have an SAT mean score of 953 as of 2023. The score is the third lowest in the country, with New Mexico and West Virginia standing at the forefront with median SAT scores of 901 and 923, respectively.

To learn about US states that have better quality school systems than Oklahoma, read our free report on the 20 States with the Worst Public School Systems in the US.

If you are looking for an AI stock that is as promising as Micron but that trades at less than 5 times its earnings, check out our report about the cheapest AI stock.

READ NEXT: Michael Burry Is Selling These Stocks.

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published on Insider Monkey.