While the U.S. is one of the most educated countries in the world, it doesn’t provide the same quality elementary school or secondary school education to all students. In many states, more affluent school districts receive a greater amount of funding per student than poorer districts.

Discrepancies between the rich and poor have been exacerbated even more this year by the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income students have suffered the greatest “learning loss” due to partial or total remote learning. One contributing factor is that people in low-income districts are less likely to have the technological resources they need.

States that provide equitable funding to all school districts can help prevent poor students from having lower graduation rates, lower rates of pursuing higher education and smaller future incomes than their wealthy peers. The difference is dramatic: College graduates have $524 – $1,112 higher median weekly earnings than people with a high school diploma and no college experience, depending on the degree.

Tennessee has the 16th most equitable school districts in the U.S. overall, but some districts within the state are fairer than others. To find out where school funding is distributed most equitably, WalletHub scored 140 districts in Tennessee based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil. Read on for the district ranking and a complete description of our methodology.


Most & Least Equitable School Districts in Tennessee

Most Equitable Least Equitable
1. Bells School District 131. Newport School District
2. Dyer County School District 132. Davidson County School District
3. Gibson County Special District School District 133. Wilson County School District
4. Madison County School District 134. Bartlett School District
5. Bledsoe County School District 135. Arlington School District
6. Meigs County School District 136. Franklin Special School District
7. Perry County School District 137. Lakeland School District
8. Dickson County School District 138. Germantown School District
9. Marion County School District 139. Collierville School District
10. Giles County School District 140. Williamson County School District

This information was first published by Wallethub.

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WalletHub Q&A

What are the long-term benefits of making sure all school districts have equitable funding?

“If we make sure that every school district has equitable funding, students in less affluent communities will have a level playing field with students in wealthy districts. As a result, their graduation rates will increase, as will their likelihood to pursue higher education and earn larger incomes,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “College graduates have $524 – $1,112 higher median weekly earnings than people with a high school diploma and no college experience, depending on the degree.”

What can we do to support underprivileged school districts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?

“To support underprivileged school districts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should make sure that all schools have the resources they need to provide a robust education in the coming year. The pandemic has caused a great amount of learning loss for students, with some months behind where they should be in a normal year,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “No matter how affluent a school’s community is, it should have enough funding for an effective catch-up year, including tutoring resources for students who have fallen behind.”