By the Numbers: Why These States Are Performing Best in K-12 Education

Looking into the states that have the highest performing districts in K-12 education can show us patterns for systematic student success. We found that states with notably higher student success rates were utilizing resources such as online tutoring and English Language Learner support.

Let’s dive into the states that US students are feeling most prepared, from elementary to college-preparatory level education and why.


Highest Graduation Rates

 To analyze the progress of K-12 education in our nation’s schools, the first key metric is the number of successful student graduations. As of 2018, the state of Iowa was found to have the highest percentage of high-school graduates in public schools with over 91% of students graduating. This is well over the national average of 85%.

We think that this could be credited to the state’s strong leadership approach to integrate online learning. Iowa focuses on providing accessible “tuition-free learning options for students in grades K–12.” Online courses are specially designed to have a “highly interactive curriculum, personalized learning, and engaging instruction from state-licensed teachers”. These courses enable students to have the quality of a traditional in-person education at no cost from the comfort of their home.

Iowa Connections Academy is one of the many online education programs that aim to build “social, emotional and real-world skills” with personal coaching at a tuition free-cost for families.

So, what can we learn from Iowa’s high graduation rates? We think it’s obvious that online learning integration is likely to have a large part in the future of education. For K-12 school districts, adopting online methods of instruction will be crucial to student success in the future.


Best College and Standardized Testing Readiness

USNews also ranked the best states for K-12 education by evaluating various metrics. They looked into college-readiness tests, such as the ACT or SAT, and created a metric titled ‘College Readiness’. This metric measures the approximate percentage of high school graduates from the class of 2019 who have passed the SAT, the ACT or both.

Analyzing tests such as the ACT and SAT help show us which states best-prepared students for secondary education. US News found Connecticut to be the top state in college readiness. We found that Connecticut administers the Connecticut SAT to all 11th Grade students and looked into how this could be leading to higher overall student success.

The Connecticut SAT differs from the national SAT by “focus[ing] on the skills and knowledge that evidence shows are needed most for college and career success.” For example, paring down the vocabulary section to include terms more likely to be used consistently by students in college and careers. The test also closely reflects the way Connecticut classrooms teach math and social studies content.

A personalized SAT approach seems to prepare students to be more successful when it comes time to take their important and nerve-racking exams. We also found that Connecticut makes significant accommodations for their K-12 EL students.


English Language Learner Accommodations

Providing time extensions and word-to-word bilingual dictionaries are two ways the top-ranking state in College Preparation assists ELLs throughout their K-12 education. States throughout the US are finding new ways for their school districts to aid ELLs.

In California, schools with more than 20 ELLs are required to have advisory committees on education programs and services for ELLs. These boards are developed so ELLs have representatives in all decisions. These boards discuss anything regarding student learning to prioritize learning supplements that are specifically aided in ELL student success.

Nevada, Illinois, and New Jersey have similar policies. States like Washington also provide “professional development training of sufficient duration and depth for administrators, teachers, counselors, and other staff on bilingual program models.” Providing educators access to culturally diverse lessons and assessment resources helps support and further all students’ academic success.

Although graduation rates, standardized testing preparation, and support for ELL students, are three crucial factors for systematic success, we found another pivotal tying factor for K-12 students.

This metric is the personalized time students are spending with educators, inside and outside of the classroom.

States with smaller instructor-to-student ratios are able to provide more online learning supplements, testing prep, and EL accommodations. Online tutoring can help provide this extra time for students for a more positive K-12 educational experience.

Intervene K-12 Tutoring

 Intervene K-12 is proud to introduce research-based assessment techniques that identify students’ strengths and areas of need and measure instructional effectiveness. Our Data Dashboard for online tutoring feature helps educators uncover and focus on misconceptions and distractors. Students are auto-grouped by misconceptions into small groups to allow for differentiated instruction to facilitate better learning.  Learn more at



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At Intervene K-12, we engage and empower students to achieve their academic goals. We unlock the potential of educators and administrators, improving their ability to lead and use data to deliver world-class instruction. We accomplish this by infusing innovative technology and educational expertise in our high-impact, high-dosage tutoring programs.