Educational Success Is Largely Determined By Where You Live


Earlier this year, Care2′s Kristina Chew wrote about the widening gap between rich and poor students in schools across the U.S. over the past few decades and how, as a result, the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students has grown by 40 percent since the 1960′s.

Now comes a report that demonstrates exactly how this works. If you thought that children receive different educational advantages, depending on where they live, you are absolutely correct.

Wealth Has Outsized Effect On Education

24/7 Wall St. analyzed Census data from 2006 through 2010 for more than 10,000 unified school districts in the United States. (There are over 14,000 in total.) To illustrate the influence wealth and poverty have on educational attainment, 24/7 Wall St. examined the wealthiest and poorest public school districts in the country. Here’s what they found:

Wealth appears to have an outsized effect on education at the local level. Residents that live in wealthy school districts have among the best schools in the nation based on graduation rates, test scores and independent ratings of academic success. Children who attend these schools are more likely to earn a college degree than the national average.


Nearly all of the wealthiest school districts are within a short distance of one of the richest cities in the country. Other than one suburb of Portland, Ore., all of the wealthiest school districts are commuter towns of New York City, located in either Fairfield County, Conn., or Westchester County, N.Y. The poorest districts are rural communities scattered all over the country, from Ohio and Kentucky to Texas and Mississippi.

How does this have an impact on schools?

10 Richest And 10 Poorest School Districts

Here’s the list of the 10 richest school districts; you’ll see that all but one are in the states of New York and Connecticut:

1. Scarsdale Union Free School District, New York

2. Weston School District, Connecticut

3. Riverdale School District, Oregon

4. Chappaqua Central School District, New York

5. Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District, New York

6. Byram Hill Central School District, New York

7. Edgemont Union Free School District, New York

8. New Canaan School District, Connecticut

9. Bronxville Union Free School District, New York

10.Darien School District, Connecticut


And the 10 poorest school districts, which are more spread around:

1. Barbourville Independent School District, Kentucky

2. Monticello Independent School District, Kentucky

3. North Bolivar School District, Mississippi

4. West Bolivar School District, Mississippi

5. Santa Maria Independent School District, Texas

6. Hayti R-II School District, Missouri

7. New Boston Local School District, Ohio

8. San Perlita Independent School District, Texas

9. Pineville Independent School District, Kentucky

10. Centennial School District R-I, Colorado

Yes, it is all about location, location, location.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, all of the wealthiest school districts spend far more per pupil than the national average. The Darien, Connecicut, public school district spends $15,433 per student per year, more than 50% above the U.S. average of $10,591. The Edgemont, New York, public school spends more than $25,000 per student annually. Barbourville, Kentucky, the poorest school district, spends less than one-third that amount.

There are other factors too: parents who are both working long hours to make ends meet cannot spend as much time with their children as those who have the luxury of a stay-at-home parent; nor can they afford all those extras that are increasingly necessary in this time of budget shortfalls. And the 25% of children in the U.S. who are living in poverty probably don’t get enough to eat, which also hampers their ability to study.

So next time someone starts blaming teachers for all that’s wrong with education, remind them of this report.

In recent years, elected officials and policymaker have declared that there should be “no excuses” for schools with low test scores. The “no excuses” reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. That someone is invariably their teachers.

This is clearly false reasoning.

Related Stories

Gap Between Rich And Poor Students Becoming A Gulf

How Important Are Test Scores In Evaluating Teachers?

Mind The Achievement Gap!


Photo Credit: thinkstock

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Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers3 years ago


Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Robby R.
Robby R.3 years ago

I agree with the title of the article. Quite a few people "in the hood" have to focus on learning survival schools/ street smarts: not getting shot or jumped, not giving in to peer pressure to perform illegal activities like making grafitti and helping in carrying out drug deals.

Carol Gilster
Carol Gilster3 years ago

Jonathan Kozel has been saying this for decades. No one seems to care.

Angela N.
Angela N.3 years ago


Kris Allen
Kris Allen3 years ago

I would like to add that it is also all about Family, Family, Family, not just location, location, location. I have taught in schools with wealthy, poor and middle income families. Though they are the exception, I have seen poor kids accomplish great things, and rich kids achieve little.

Betsy M.
Betsy M.3 years ago

So true. My community is very polarized. There is even a special school with extra funds for the *gifted* lol =rich kids.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Wow, what an amazingly ignorant and racist comment.

Helen K.

I suspect those pooh-poohing school funding have never heard of a class being held in a closet, because the school had run out of classrooms -- or of a poor girl waxing enthusiastic about reading The Tale of Two Cities, while at the same time bemoaning having to share a copy that had pages missing, because there weren't enough for all the students. How about a typing class full of old, manual keyboards that are missing keys, and a chemistry class with a single Bunsen burner and no sink?