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Rankings of the States 2017 & Estimates of School Statistics 2018

The data presented in this combined report provide facts about the extent to which local, state, and national governments commit resources to public education. NEA Research offers this report to its state and local affiliates as well as to researchers, policymakers, and the public as a tool to examine public education policies, programs, and services.

Download the Full Report

Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2019 and Estimates of School Statistics 2020 ( PDF, 2.2MB, 79 pgs.) 
(released: June 2020)

2017-18 Rankings & Estimates Highlights

Enrollment and Attendance

In fall 2016, U.S. public school enrollment was 49,753,306, down 0.1 percent over fall 2015. The largest percentage enrollment changes from fall 2015 to fall 2016 were in:

  • the District of Columbia (2%)
  • Virginia (2%)
  • Utah (1.9%).

Nineteen states experienced declines in student enrollment from 2015 to 2016. The greatest declines were in:

  • New York (-5.3%)
  • Indiana (-2.3%)
  • New Jersey (-2.1%).

Public school enrollment is expected to increase by 0.3 percent from 2016‒17 (49,753,306) to 2017‒18 (49,878,713).  Public school enrollment anticipated during the 2017‒18 school year represents the 33rd consecutive increase since 1985–86.

Public school enrollment has registered a 1.9 percent increase since 2008‒09 (48,954,071). Enrollment in elementary schools has increased by 2.4 percent, whereas enrollment in secondary schools has increased by 1.0 percent during the 10-year period.

The number of students in average daily attendance (ADA) increased by 0.1 percent nationwide, from 46,457,525 in 201516 to 46,524,270 in 2016‒17.

The number of students in average daily attendance is also projected to grow by 0.3 percent from 46,524,270 in 2016‒17 to 46,666,517 in 2017‒18.  It has increased by 1.8 percent over the past decade from 45,863,233 in 2008‒09. 

High School Graduates

A total of 3,240,592 students graduated from high school in 2016‒17, up 0.1 percent from 3,238,440 in 2015‒16.

A total of 3,263,223 students are expected to graduate from high school in 2017‒18, up 0.7 percent from 3,240,592 in 2016‒17, representing an increase of 7.7 percent from 3,029,312 graduates in 2008‒09.

Classroom Teachers

There were 3,116,588 teachers in 2016‒17. Texas (352,809), California (277,585), and New York (210,791) represented the largest numbers of teachers, while the District of Columbia (4,958) and Wyoming (7,461) accounted for the smallest numbers.

The average number of students enrolled per teacher decreased slightly (-0.4%) from 16.03 in 2015‒16 to 15.96 in 2016‒17. States with the highest number of students enrolled per teacher in fall 2016 were:

  • Nevada (25.86)
  • Arizona (23.51)
  • Utah (22.50).

States with the lowest student-teacher ratios in fall 2016 were:

  • Vermont (9.49)
  • New Jersey (11.79)
  • Missouri (11.83).

The number of public school classroom teachers is predicted to grow by 0.3 percent from 3,116,588 in 2016‒17 to 3,126,790 in 2017‒18, which would be a decrease of 2.2 percent compared to 3,196,987 in 2008‒09. The number of elementary school classroom teaching staff has increased 2.3 percent since 2008‒09, while the number of secondary school teachers has decreased 8.6 percent.

Teacher Salary

The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2016–17 was $59,660.  State average teacher salaries ranged from those in New York ($81,902), California ($79,128), and Massachusetts ($78,100) at the high end, to Mississippi ($42,925), Oklahoma ($45,292) and West Virginia  ($45,555) at the low end.

The U.S. average one-year change in public school teacher salaries from 2015–16 to 2016–17 was 2.0 percent. The largest one-year decrease was in West Virginia (-0.1%), and the largest one-year increase was in South Dakota (11.8%).

The average classroom teacher salary for 2017‒18 is estimated to increase by 1.4 percent over 2016‒17, from $59,660 to $60,483. 

The estimated average teacher salary of $60,483 for 2017‒18 represents an increase of 11.2 percent over $54,368 in 2008‒09.

But, when the effects of inflation are taken into account, the average classroom teacher salary has actually decreased by 4.0 percent from 2008‒09 to 2017‒18. 

School Revenues

School funding continues to be state and local oriented.  In 2015–16, 45.9 percent of public school revenue came from state funds, whereas 45.6 percent came from state funds in 2016–17.  Local funds contributed similar percentages in both 2015‒16 (45.6%) and 2016‒17 (46.1%).  In those two years, federal funds constituted 8.5 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively, of K‒12 education revenue.

State governments are estimated to provide 45.8 percent of public school financial support for 2017‒18, up 0.2 percent from 2016‒17. For 2017‒18, the federal government’s contribution to public elementary and secondary school revenues is expected to be 7.8 percent, versus 8.3 percent in 2016‒17.

From 2008‒09 to 2017‒18, school revenue receipts have increased 13.4 percent.  Adjusting for inflation, public school revenues have decreased 2.1 percent over the decade.

During this 10-year period, the percentage of state funding has ranged between 44.1 and 47.3 percent of total revenue receipts.  Local governments have contributed similar shares of school revenue receipts. 

State education resources have increased by 9.8 percent from 2009 to 2018, but have decreased 5.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Expenditure per Student

The U.S. average per-student expenditure in 2016‒17 based on fall enrollment was $11,642.  The following states had the highest per-student expenditures: 

  • The District of Columbia ($25,025)
  • New York ($23,265)
  • Alaska (21,261).

Idaho ($6,761), Utah ($6,906), and Indiana ($7,267) had the lowest per-student expenditures.

Expenditures per student in fall enrollment are estimated to increase by 2.5 percent to $11,934 in 2017‒18, up from $11,642 in 2016‒17. This compares with an estimated 2.8 percent increase in total current expenditures.

Over the last decade, the average per-student expenditure has risen by 13.1 percent from $10,548 to $11,934.  After inflation adjustment, the expenditure per student in enrollment has decreased by 2.3 percent.