Skip to main content
care2's picture

by Judy Molland at

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.

Reposted with permission from

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!