While the U.S. is one of the most educated countries in the world, it doesn’t provide the same quality elementary school or secondary school education to all students. In many states, more affluent school districts receive a greater amount of funding per student than poorer districts, with one estimate claiming that low-income districts are underfunded by around $6,700 per pupil.
Discrepancies between the rich and poor have been exacerbated even more due to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income students have suffered the greatest “learning loss” due to partial or total remote learning. One contributing factor is that people in low-income districts are less likely to have the technological resources they need.
States that provide equitable funding to all school districts can help prevent poor students from having lower graduation rates, lower rates of pursuing higher education and smaller future incomes than their wealthy peers. The difference is dramatic: College graduates have $154 - $1,115 higher median weekly earnings than people with a high school diploma and no college experience, depending on the degree.
California has the 2nd least equitable school districts in the U.S. overall, but some districts within the state are fairer than others. To find out where school funding is distributed most equitably, WalletHub scored 914 districts in California based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.
Note: For visual purposes, we included only the top 7 school districts by enrollment from each category. Rank 1 on the “Expenditures Ranking” means highest expenditures and Rank 1 on “Income Ranking” means lowest income.
Most & Least Equitable School Districts in California
|Rank*||School District||Score||Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Schools per Pupil||Income by School District|
|4||Shandon Joint Unified||0.11||$17,158||$64,000|
|5||Napa Valley Unified||0.11||$11,856||$92,144|
|8||Hart-Ransom Union Elementary||0.23||$9,908||$102,750|
|9||Alta Loma Elementary||0.29||$10,739||$98,387|
|10||Hope Elementary - Santa Barbara||0.46||$12,991||$86,566|
|12||San Lorenzo Unified||0.7||$13,545||$82,726|
|13||John Swett Unified||0.72||$13,949||$80,565|
|15||Julian Union Elementary||0.75||$17,226||$64,306|
|16||San Leandro Unified||0.76||$12,753||$86,883|
|17||Two Rock Union||0.86||$14,085||$81,063|
|18||Murrieta Valley Unified||0.88||$11,339||$94,295|
|21||San Diego Unified||0.94||$14,540||$78,717|
|22||East Whittier City Elementary||1.17||$12,417||$88,347|
|23||San Marcos Unified||1.18||$12,040||$90,343|
|26||Huntington Beach City Elementary||1.26||$10,635||$99,689|
|27||Santa Ana Unified||1.32||$15,219||$73,359|
|28||Norwalk-La Mirada Unified||1.34||$14,048||$79,553|
|30||Monte Rio Union Elementary||1.39||$20,564||$47,083|
In order to rank the states with the most and least equitable school districts, WalletHub first scored 12,876 school districts throughout the U.S. based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.
For expenditures, for each 1 percent above the state's average we removed 1 point from a base score of 50 points for each district. For household income, for each 1 percent above the state's average we added 1 point to a base score of 50 points for each district. The inverse was true for each 1 percent below the state's average.
The final score for each district was calculated by taking the absolute difference between the score for expenditures and the score for household income. We then ranked the districts based on the total score, with the lowest value, representing the most equitable, being ranked 1.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from of the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics.