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On Dec. 2, 2015, the House approved a sweeping bill to drastically overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, ending an era of major federal involvement in public education. Representative John Kline, R-Minn., who is also chairman of the House Education Committee, said in a statement that No Child Left Behind was “based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington knows what students need to succeed in school.”

RELATED: These are the best elementary schools in every state

With the onus of public school performance now shifting back to states and local districts, StartClass examined the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education to identify the primary “up-and-coming” public school district in each state.


The data is from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. To determine the top up-and-coming school district in every state, we focused on two factors: the change in percentile rank in proficiency rates on statewide math and reading tests, and the change in percentile rank in high school graduation rates. We chose the district with the greatest increases as the biggest up-and-comer in the state.

RELATED: Are the best public schools really in the most expensive neighborhoods?

Three states — Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma — are not included in this list because they were not required to report their graduation rates for the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, Hawaii was not included because it has just one school district. We also did not include school districts with fewer than 100 students participating in the state math and reading assessment.

It’s important to note that districts can see a decrease in achievement scores yet an increase in percentile rank. This occurs if the following year sees a decrease in the mean and standard deviation of state assessment scores across the districts in each state. Also, keep in mind that the sample size is only two school years, so the data could be influenced by a year-to-year fluctuation.

Alabama: Leeds City Schools

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 27th
    • 2012-13: 56th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 24th
    • 2012-13: 47th

Alaska: Iditarod Area School District

  • Number of schools: 8
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 35th
    • 2012-13: 54th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 16th
    • 2012-13: 22nd

Arizona: Ash Fork Joint Unified School District

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 37th
    • 2012-13: 65th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 61st
    • 2012-13: 76th

Arkansas: Mountain Pine School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 23rd
    • 2012-13: 35th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 9th
    • 2012-13: 53rd

California: Laytonville Unified School District

  • Number of schools: 6
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 12th
    • 2012-13: 18th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 28th
    • 2012-13: 65th

Colorado: Primero Reorganized School District No. 2

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 20th
    • 2012-13: 44th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 9th
    • 2012-13: 65th

Connecticut: Bloomfield School District

  • Number of schools: 8
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 21st
    • 2012-13: 28th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 14th
    • 2012-13: 49th

Delaware: Lake Forest School District

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 70th
    • 2012-13: 71st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 38th
    • 2012-13: 51st

Florida: Lafayette District Schools

  • Number of schools: 7
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 46th
    • 2012-13: 51st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 29th
    • 2012-13: 88th

Georgia: Bacon County School District

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 70th
    • 2012-13: 81st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 48th
    • 2012-13: 85th

Illinois: Lincoln Way Community High School District 210

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 23rd
    • 2012-13: 84th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 82nd
    • 2012-13: 90th

Indiana: Randolph Southern School Corporation

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 55th
    • 2012-13: 72nd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 16th
    • 2012-13: 60th

Iowa: Sidney Community School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 30th
    • 2012-13: 57th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 17th
    • 2012-13: 62nd

Kansas: Herington Unified School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 58th
    • 2012-13: 87th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 43rd
    • 2012-13: 74th

Louisiana: Iberville Parish School District

  • Number of schools: 7
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 46th
    • 2012-13: 58th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 8th
    • 2012-13: 44th

Maine: Millinocket Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 20th
    • 2012-13: 40th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 21st
    • 2012-13: 55th

Maryland: Wicomico County Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 25
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 37th
    • 2012-13: 50th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 18th
    • 2012-13: 19th

Massachusetts: Bellingham Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 7
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 34th
    • 2012-13: 37th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 32nd
    • 2012-13: 66th

Michigan: Ironwood Area Schools of Gogebic County

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 30th
    • 2012-13: 71st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 28th
    • 2012-13: 49th

Minnesota: Lancaster Public School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 60th
    • 2012-13: 89th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 10th
    • 2012-13: 56th

Mississippi: Hollandale School District

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 22nd
    • 2012-13: 47th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 14th
    • 2012-13: 47th

Missouri: Bloomfield R-XIV School District

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 30th
    • 2012-13: 46th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 27th
    • 2012-13: 70th

Montana: Superior K-12 Schools

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 45th
    • 2012-13: 51st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 67th
    • 2012-13: 86th

Nebraska: Mead Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 7th
    • 2012-13: 71st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 3rd
    • 2012-13: 58th

Nevada: Nye County School District

  • Number of schools: 27
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 19th
    • 2012-13: 24th
  • Graduation rate profile:
    • 2011-12: 12th
    • 2012-13: 38th

New Hampshire: Mascoma Valley Regional School District

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 21st
    • 2012-13: 29th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 36th
    • 2012-13: 82nd

New Jersey: Keyport School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 32nd
    • 2012-13: 47th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 9th
    • 2012-13: 39th

New Mexico: Hondo Valley Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 7th
    • 2012-13: 18th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 3rd
    • 2012-13: 78th

New York: Morrisville-Eaton Central School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 19th
    • 2012-13: 25th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 19th
    • 2012-13: 73rd

North Carolina: Beaufort County Schools

  • Number of schools: 14
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 32nd
    • 2012-13: 41st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 18th
    • 2012-13: 32nd

North Dakota: Westhope 17 School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 28th
    • 2012-13: 65th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 9th
    • 2012-13: 43rd

Ohio: Jefferson Township Local School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Profiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 4th
    • 2012-13: 13th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 39th
    • 2012-13: 64th

Oregon: Riddle School District 70

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 12th
    • 2012-13: 15th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 3rd
    • 2012-13: 66th

Pennsylvania: Mahanoy Area School District

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 12th
    • 2012-13: 23rd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 20th
    • 2012-13: 65th

Rhode Island: North Smithfield School Department

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 73rd
    • 2012-13: 77th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 47th
    • 2012-13: 66th

South Carolina: Hampton County School District 1

  • Number of schools: 7
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 46th
    • 2012-13: 49th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 26th
    • 2012-13: 81st

South Dakota: Edmunds Central School District 22-5

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 30th
    • 2012-13: 43rd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 6th
    • 2012-13: 62nd

Tennessee: Lewis County Schools

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 30th
    • 2012-13: 38th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 20th
    • 2012-13: 66th

Texas: Munday Consolidated Independent School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 20th
    • 2012-13: 42nd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 41st
    • 2012-13: 65th

Utah: Salt Lake School District

  • Number of schools: 42
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 18th
    • 2012-13: 35th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 21st
    • 2012-13: 32nd

Vermont: Proctor School District

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 29th
    • 2012-13: 40th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 37th
    • 2012-13: 75th

Virginia: Lunenburg County Public Schools

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 18th
    • 2012-13: 22nd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 11th
    • 2012-13: 71st

Washington: Northport School District

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 53rd
    • 2012-13: 61st
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 28th
    • 2012-13: 59th

West Virginia: Doddridge County Schools

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 49th
    • 2012-13: 60th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 24th
    • 2012-13: 70th

Wisconsin: Prairie Farm Public School District

  • Number of schools: 3
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 14th
    • 2012-13: 26th
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 16th
    • 2012-13: 57th

Wyoming: Big Horn County School District #4

  • Number of schools: 4
  • Proficiency percentile:
    • 2011-12: 33rd
    • 2012-13: 62nd
  • Graduation rate percentile:
    • 2011-12: 57th
    • 2012-13: 62nd
Nick Selbe, StartClass |
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