Best school districts in Washington

Written by:
March 9, 2022
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Best school districts in Washington

A good school can lead to a lifetime of opportunities. Myriad data shows that lifetime earnings dramatically increase with every degree obtained. Bachelor’s degree holders will earn an average of roughly $26,000 more each year than high school graduates. And for those who decide that pursuing a college degree is not the best postsecondary option, a good school will provide students with the tools and support to make that choice, and the foundational skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.

For many families, the school district is a top criteria when deciding where to buy a home. But this consideration and ability to choose is not a luxury all families can afford, especially in today’s wildly competitive housing market.

One important proxy of a quality education is per-student spending. According to the most recent Census data available, the national average per-pupil expenditure in fiscal year 2019 was $13,187. Several recent studies suggest that increased spending per student correlates with higher academic achievement, particularly in districts serving predominantly low-income students. Since public schools are largely funded by property taxes, schools in low-income areas suffer the most from a lack of funding for critical expenditures like staff salaries and benefits, transportation, instructional resources, and support services.

There are more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., each one slightly different, for better or worse, than the next. However, several common denominators exist and, when compared, can serve as indicators of what makes an impactful district.

Stacker compiled a list of the best school districts in Washington using rankings from Niche. Niche ranks school districts based on a variety of criteria including academics (SAT/ACT scores and state proficiency tests), teacher salaries, expenses per student, and access to extracurricular activities.

#10. Olympia School District (Olympia)
- Number of schools: 21 (10,057 students)
- Graduation rate: 91% (75% reading proficient and 66% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $69,886 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)

#9. Shoreline School District (Shoreline)
- Number of schools: 19 (10,223 students)
- Graduation rate: 90% (77% reading proficient and 67% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $81,046 (20:1 student to teacher ratio)

#8. University Place School District (University Place)
- Number of schools: 8 (5,759 students)
- Graduation rate: 94% (77% reading proficient and 70% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $73,684 (19:1 student to teacher ratio)

#7. Pullman Public Schools (Pullman)
- Number of schools: 6 (2,797 students)
- Graduation rate: 95% (76% reading proficient and 63% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $58,694 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)

#6. Northshore School District (Bothell)
- Number of schools: 37 (23,915 students)
- Graduation rate: 94% (78% reading proficient and 69% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $65,182 (19:1 student to teacher ratio)

#5. Issaquah School District (Issaquah)
- Number of schools: 28 (21,358 students)
- Graduation rate: 92% (81% reading proficient and 77% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $75,534 (19:1 student to teacher ratio)

#4. Lake Washington School District (Redmond)
- Number of schools: 56 (31,851 students)
- Graduation rate: 93% (85% reading proficient and 79% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $69,298 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)

#3. Bainbridge Island School District (Bainbridge Island)
- Number of schools: 10 (3,835 students)
- Graduation rate: 93% (88% reading proficient and 81% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $75,048 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)

#2. Bellevue School District (Bellevue)
- Number of schools: 31 (21,672 students)
- Graduation rate: 93% (79% reading proficient and 73% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $76,121 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)

#1. Mercer Island School District (Mercer Island)
- Number of schools: 6 (4,496 students)
- Graduation rate: 93% (87% reading proficient and 83% math proficient)
- Average teacher salary: $73,066 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)

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