Home News The 20 ‘Worst’ Public Schools in America

The 20 ‘Worst’ Public Schools in America

student works on exam booklet

student works on exam booklet A student works on an exam book | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

We often hear data about how American students are performing in science, math, or reading. For instance, in 2015, the United States ranked 24th in reading, 25th in science, and 40th in math according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Hearing education statistics like these, coupled with bullying statistics and other concerns, it’s no wonder many parents want to study a school inside and out before agreeing to send their child there. School choice is a decision that can have a profound impact on a child’s life.

Most parents simply want to find a safe and comfortable place where their children can develop strong scholastic abilities and social skills. When all is said and done, the goal for most families is to do the best they can to prepare their children for life outside of the nest.

The problem, though, is not all schools are created equally — not by a long shot. Schools have various levels of funding, professionalism, and skill levels among staff, as well as various types of community members. Because of this, some parents decide to go with the home school, magnet school, charter school, or private school options.

For those who choose private schools, they end up shelling out major cash for an option that may or may not be a better choice. And of course, no school is perfect. There are about 33,600 private schools in the U.S. that enrolled nearly 5.2 million students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent estimates. But a majority of American students — about 50.4 million pupils — will go to one of the 98,300 public schools in the country.

Neighborhood Scout, a website that collects and analyzes data on U.S. neighborhoods and cities, determined the best and worst public schools in the United States. These Neighborhood Scout lists are based on students’ test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and No Child Left Behind. We list the rankings from that site but then did some more digging to find those schools’ performance data compared to their home states. Here are the 20 worst schools in the nation.

Keep in mind that several factors, such as safety, dropout rates, college admission rates, and even location, can come into play when determining which schools are the “best” and “worst.” So while these lists do evaluate schools based on students’ academics, they do not account for every single factor that makes a school a quality educational institution.