Montana’s wide open expanses of picturesque wilderness and fluffy, cloud-filled blue skies must make it difficult for teachers to keep students behind their desks until the last bell, yet judging from their academic performance, the state’s best school districts are able to do just that.

Ranking #1 overall is Sunburst Schools, a modest-sized district comprising one K-6 elementary and one combined 7-12 high school located in Sunburst, MT. Despite the fact that the community in which it is based has a population of just 338 as of 2016, Sunburst High School was nevertheless recognized as a bronze medal level school by U.S. News & World Report.

Second on the list is the Frenchtown School District, serving Frenchtown, MT, a community that--with its 1,825 inhabitants and four schools--is a bustling metropolis by Montana standards.

Placing third is Ennis Schools in Ennis, Montana. Despite its modest size, the district boasts thriving athletic and extracurricular programs.

Montana’s top five list is rounded out by two more small, yet well-staffed and spirited school districts, Florence-Carlton School District 15-6 (#4), and Townsend School District #1 (#5).

Top School Districts in Montana, 2018

State RankSchool DistrictState
1Sunburst K-12 SchoolsMontana
2Frenchtown K-12 SchoolsMontana
3Ennis K-12 SchoolsMontana
4Florence-Carlton K-12 SchlsMontana
5Townsend K-12 SchoolsMontana
6Plentywood K-12 SchoolsMontana
7Corvallis K-12 SchoolsMontana
8Malta K-12 SchoolsMontana
9Hamilton K-12 SchoolsMontana
10Scobey K-12 SchoolsMontana
11Baker K-12 SchoolsMontana
12Glasgow K-12 SchoolsMontana
13Superior K-12 SchoolsMontana
14Huntley Project K-12 SchoolsMontana
15Twin Bridges K-12 SchoolsMontana
16Libby K-12 SchoolsMontana
17Victor K-12 SchoolsMontana
18Darby K-12 SchoolsMontana
19St Ignatius K-12 SchoolsMontana


The following contributed to the ranking: student performance (math and reading test scores), dropout rates, school funding, and area poverty rates. Data was collected from a total of 9,577 school districts.

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