The Tarheel state lays claim to some of the best public school systems in the southeastern region of the United States; North Carolina schools rank 11th in the nation in college readiness according to U.S. News & World Report.

The best school district in North Carolina is Chapel-Hill-Carrboro City Schools, comprising 19 schools serving over 12,000 students in the southeastern part of Orange County, NC. Two of the districts high schools have been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek’s rankings of the best high schools in the nation.

Another large district of schools, Union City Public Schools of Union County, NC, ranks #2. UCPS’s accomplishments are vast; the district is home to three National Blue Ribbon award winning schools and boasts a graduation rate of 92.5 percent.

North Carolina’s largest school district, the Wake County Public School System, places third in the ranking. WCPSS administers 171 schools with over 160,000 students as of 2018.

Fourth on the list is Polk County Schools, a comparatively smaller district of seven schools located in rural Western North Carolina. Students enrolled in the districts schools have achieved an excellent graduation rate of 89%.

Asheville City Schools, a district of eleven schools serving the college town/outdoor recreation mecca of Asheville, NC, closes out the list of North Carolina’s top five public school districts.

Top School Districts in North Carolina, 2018

State RankSchool DistrictState
1Chapel Hill-Carrboro City SchoolsNorth Carolina
2Union County Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
3Wake County SchoolsNorth Carolina
4Polk County SchoolsNorth Carolina
5Asheville City SchoolsNorth Carolina
6Mooresville Graded School DistrictNorth Carolina
7Camden County SchoolsNorth Carolina
8Watauga County SchoolsNorth Carolina
9Orange County SchoolsNorth Carolina
10Davie County SchoolsNorth Carolina
11Henderson County SchoolsNorth Carolina
12Lincoln County SchoolsNorth Carolina
13Carteret County Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
14Cabarrus County SchoolsNorth Carolina
15Currituck County SchoolsNorth Carolina
16New Hanover County SchoolsNorth Carolina
17Surry County SchoolsNorth Carolina
18Buncombe County SchoolsNorth Carolina
19Dare County SchoolsNorth Carolina
20Iredell-Statesville SchoolsNorth Carolina
21Charlotte-Mecklenburg SchoolsNorth Carolina
22Johnston County SchoolsNorth Carolina
23Elkin City SchoolsNorth Carolina
24Haywood County SchoolsNorth Carolina
25Yancey County SchoolsNorth Carolina
26Chatham County SchoolsNorth Carolina
27Davidson County SchoolsNorth Carolina
28Ashe County SchoolsNorth Carolina
29Moore County SchoolsNorth Carolina
30Stokes County SchoolsNorth Carolina
31Caldwell County SchoolsNorth Carolina
32Cleveland County SchoolsNorth Carolina
33Craven County SchoolsNorth Carolina
34Alexander County SchoolsNorth Carolina
35Catawba County SchoolsNorth Carolina
36Brunswick County SchoolsNorth Carolina
37Transylvania County SchoolsNorth Carolina
38Burke County SchoolsNorth Carolina
39Yadkin County SchoolsNorth Carolina
40Mitchell County SchoolsNorth Carolina
41Person County SchoolsNorth Carolina
42Swain County SchoolsNorth Carolina
43Madison County SchoolsNorth Carolina
44Pender County SchoolsNorth Carolina
45Mcdowell County SchoolsNorth Carolina
46Stanly County SchoolsNorth Carolina
47Wilkes County SchoolsNorth Carolina
48Lee County SchoolsNorth Carolina
49Mount Airy City SchoolsNorth Carolina
50Randolph County SchoolsNorth Carolina
51Newton Conover City SchoolsNorth Carolina
52Hickory City SchoolsNorth Carolina
53Jackson County SchoolsNorth Carolina
54Winston Salem/Forsyth County SchoolsNorth Carolina
55Rutherford County SchoolsNorth Carolina
56Guilford County SchoolsNorth Carolina
57Gates County SchoolsNorth Carolina
58Gaston County SchoolsNorth Carolina
59Alamance-Burlington SchoolsNorth Carolina
60Macon County SchoolsNorth Carolina
61Pitt County SchoolsNorth Carolina
62Hoke County SchoolsNorth Carolina
63Sampson County SchoolsNorth Carolina
64Onslow County SchoolsNorth Carolina
65Graham County SchoolsNorth Carolina
66Alleghany County SchoolsNorth Carolina
67Franklin County SchoolsNorth Carolina
68Avery County SchoolsNorth Carolina
69Clay County SchoolsNorth Carolina
70Rockingham County SchoolsNorth Carolina
71Clinton City SchoolsNorth Carolina
72Cherokee County SchoolsNorth Carolina
73Granville County SchoolsNorth Carolina
74Harnett County SchoolsNorth Carolina
75Cumberland County SchoolsNorth Carolina
76Jones County SchoolsNorth Carolina
77Wilson County SchoolsNorth Carolina
78Perquimans County SchoolsNorth Carolina
79Whiteville City SchoolsNorth Carolina
80Kannapolis City SchoolsNorth Carolina
81Edenton-Chowan SchoolsNorth Carolina
82Hyde County SchoolsNorth Carolina
83Pamlico County SchoolsNorth Carolina
84Roanoke Rapids City SchoolsNorth Carolina
85Beaufort County SchoolsNorth Carolina
86Rowan-Salisbury SchoolsNorth Carolina
87Duplin County SchoolsNorth Carolina
88Wayne County Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
89Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
90Caswell County SchoolsNorth Carolina
91Columbus County SchoolsNorth Carolina
92Scotland County SchoolsNorth Carolina
93Durham Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
94Nash-Rocky Mount SchoolsNorth Carolina
95Asheboro City SchoolsNorth Carolina
96Lexington City SchoolsNorth Carolina
97Lenoir County Public SchoolsNorth Carolina
98Martin County SchoolsNorth Carolina
99Montgomery County SchoolsNorth Carolina
100Vance County SchoolsNorth Carolina

Methodology

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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