The Best (and Worst) School Districts for Online Learning

Monday, 5 October, 2020

According to our data, 96% of school districts switched to online learning amidst the lockdown. So how did school districts that were forced to switch to emergency remote learning fare? Which districts—and states—were prepared to go online overnight? Which flourished in the transition and which struggled? 

The team at was curious, so we analyzed the number of households within each state and city with access to a broadband connection, computer or laptop, online learning platform, and more. As it turns out, the districts that didn’t fare well in the transition also had numerous households with slow internet or poor Wi-Fi connectivity. 

We were also curious: how did making the switch online affect students’ academic performance? To find out, we surveyed 1,639 parents. (Spoiler: students’ academic performance mostly stayed the same or improved.) Read on to find out more.

displays best and worst school districts in America

Here’s What We Found 

  • Three out of the five states in the top ten districts that were best prepared for online learning are in the Northeast. Unsurprisingly, the Northeast leads the charge for having the highest number of best states for K-12 education of any region. 
  • Eight Idaho districts sit in the top ten school districts worst for online learning. The state’s education budget of $2,473 is one of the lowest in the country.
  • 40% of the school districts in the top ten are in New Jersey. During the COVID-19 lockdown, New Jersey allocated funding to school districts for laptops, tablets, and internet hotspots for students in need. 
  • In the same vein, New York redistributed funds to provide laptops and free meals for students in need during the COVID-19 lockdown. 
  • The Climax Springs R-IV school district in Missouri also snagged a spot in the top ten. Despite having twenty-three schools in its district, Climax Springs R-IV has an impressive student-teacher ratio of 2:1. 
  • New Hampshire’s Lincoln-Woodstock School District ranked 25th in the nation for online learning—likely because it averages two students per teacher. The school district boasts a total of 288 students and 129 teachers (talk about undivided attention). 
  • Districts in New York receive average funding of $7,737 per student—the most of any state. Meanwhile, school districts in Utah average the least amount of funding per student: $2,436. 

Best School District for Online Learning in Each State

StateBest School District
AlabamaGreene County
AlaskaCopper River School District
ArizonaChinle Unified District (4158)
ArkansasDecatur School District
CaliforniaLaton Joint Unified
ColoradoDel Norte Consolidated School District No. C-7
ConnecticutEast Haddam School District
DelawareChristina School District
D.C.District of Columbia Public Schools
GeorgiaPulaski County
HawaiiHawaii Department Of Education
IdahoClark County District
IllinoisCalhoun CUSD 40
IndianaLake Ridge New Tech Schools
IowaMoulton-Udell Comm School District
KentuckyElliott County
LouisianaGrant Parish
MaineRSU 23
MarylandKent County Public Schools
MassachusettsQuaboag Regional
MichiganCarrollton Public Schools
MinnesotaRed Lake Public School District
MississippiJones Co School District
MissouriClimax Springs R-IV
MontanaDodson K-12
NebraskaMinatare Public Schools
NevadaEureka County School District
New HampshireLincoln-Woodstock School District
New JerseyElsinboro Township School District
New MexicoCobre Consolidated Schools
New YorkBridgehampton Union Free School District
North CarolinaPender County Schools
North DakotaMilnor 2
OhioNewcomerstown Exempted Village
OklahomaBoise City Public School District
OregonNeah-Kah-Nie School District
PennsylvaniaChester-Upland SD
Rhode IslandNewport
South CarolinaJasper 01
South DakotaDupree School District 64-2
TennesseeMacon County
TexasMcMullen County ISD
UtahPiute District
VermontHartford School District
VirginiaCarroll Co PBLC SCHS
WashingtonOthello School District
West VirginiaClay County Schools
WisconsinFlambeau School District
WyomingFremont County School District #14
  • 74% said that transitioning to online learning was moderate, easy, or very easy for their child.
  • 24% of people surveyed claimed their child’s academic performance improved while learning online. 32% of people surveyed cited that their child’s academic performance declined. 43% claim their student’s academic performance stayed the same.
  • Only 22% of parents prefer online learning.
  • 7% of respondents said their internet access was not sufficient for their child’s online learning. 60% of respondents cited slow internet as the biggest internet problem, followed by 37% which cited spotty Wi-Fi. 
  • 58% of respondents claimed that their child didn’t experience any issues while trying to access their online classroom.


To collect data on the best and worst school districts for online learning, we used the following graphs from the Census Bureau and the NCES.ED.GOV: GS00SS08, S2801, and S0101.

From there, we ranked each district based on the following factors: 

  • Number of households with Broadband internet subscriptions (30% of final score)
  • Number of households with access to a laptop or desktop (25% of final score)
  • Percentage of online learning platform options per state (20% of final score) 
  • Student to teacher ratio (15% of final score)
  • Number of people aged 5–19 (5% of final score)
  • State spending on education per capita (5% of final score)

We surveyed 1,639 parents of students in grades K-12 via Pollfish and Mouseflow surveys to learn about their students’ transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked questions about ease of transition, academic performance before and after the switch online, learning management and video conferencing platforms used, and more.

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