Louisiana has the worst public education system in the United States, according to a new survey.
The study comes from WalletHub, an organization that researches economic and community issues throughout the country.
The survey ranked Louisiana 51st in the country for its education system. The study examined systems in all states and the District of Columbia.
Louisiana came in 44th in WalletHub’s quality ranking, which takes into account several academic factors. This is an improvement from last year.
“The WalletHub report indicates that Louisiana schools have improved in state rankings of school quality, from 49th to 44th, in the last year alone,” noted Sydni Dunn, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education.
The state was 51st in state rankings for school safety.
“The report also indicates persistent challenges with school safety, where Louisiana continues to rank last,” Dunn added.
Louisiana was ranked 48th for math and reading test scores. It was No. 43 for the highest percentage of threatened or injured high school students.
Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said she thinks schools across the state are improving academically.
“It may be that other states are improving as well, so it’s a moving target,” Meaux said.
“I think that our teachers are doing a fantastic job of making sure our kids are learning,” Meaux continued. “I think they are doing a good job making sure our children are being looked at in terms of what is best for the child.”
To develop the rankings, researchers looked at several factors, including schools’ inclusion in U.S. News and World Report lists, graduation rates for low-income students, dropout rates, math and reading test scores, Advanced Placement scores, SAT and ACT scores, pupil-teacher ratios and the number of certified teachers.
Researchers also analyzed safety aspects of school, including high school students who reported being threatened or injured, high school students not attending school because of safety concerns, students’ participation in violence, access to illegal drugs and rates of bullying, discipline and youth incarceration.
To improve school systems across the country, one researcher called for closer collaboration among districts, communities and parents.
“In many urban areas, issues that affect school performance are caused by poverty: community violence, parents working several jobs at minimum wage, which do not allow them to be involved in their child’s education, or even to be home to be sure their child attend school,” said Jan Arlene Furman, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership at Seton Hall University.
“Schools alone cannot solve these issues,” Furman continued. “Closer collaboration between leaders of social agencies and public schools would help to maximize current resources.”
Meaux agreed that schools and communities can benefit from working closely together.
“If more people can understand the backgrounds that kids come from, the more we can be sensitive to what a child needs,” she said.
The nation's top five states for education, according to the study, are Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Vermont.
The five systems with the lowest rankings were Mississippi, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, New Mexico and Louisiana.