Skip to Content

Maine Public Schools Rank Dead Last in the Nation

Disclosure: The Maine Wire is a project of the Maine Policy Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to expand individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine.

Maine ranked dead last on a compiled by U.S. News comparing the quality of public high schools between states.

The U.S. News compiled a list of public high schools and assigned the majority of them scores based on a variety of factors, only leaving out public schools without a grade 12, or with extremely low enrollment.

Each school was then assigned a score between 1-100, with states being ranked based on the proportion of their schools in the top 25 percent nationwide.

Maine, which had 103 ranked schools, had only a single school ranked in the top five or top 10 percent, and only two schools in the top 25 percent.

Only 1.9 percent of Maine schools ranked among the top 25 percent of schools nationwide.

Maine fell slightly behind Oklahoma, which ranked 50th with 2.5 percent of its schools in the top 25 percent.

Massachusetts made its way to the top of the list, with 43.9 percent of its schools ranking in the top 25 percent.

Maine’s highest ranked school was the Greely High School in Cumberland, which ranked as number 566 in the nation, scoring 96.79 from the U.S. News.

U.S. News does not display specific information for any schools which ranked in the bottom 25 percent of schools nationwide, so it is unclear which Maine schools were the worst.

The news outlet ranked schools based on six metrics, including college readiness, which is weighted heaviest, student performance on advanced, college level classes, performance on standardized tests, and the graduation rate.

The outlet also used one Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) metric to measure schools, ranking them based on the performance of “underserved students” meaning low income, black, and Hispanic students.

Maine’s last-in-the-nation score from U.S. News follows a steady decline in the quality of Maine’s public education.

Last year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s ranked Maine 34th in the nation for education, basing the ranking on the number of young children not in school, the percentage of fourth graders unable to read proficiently, the number of eighth graders failing at math, and the percentage of high school students who fail to graduate on time.

That study showed that 71 percent of fourth graders in Maine could not read proficiently.

Although that study, which was not restricted to high school, shed a more favorable light on Maine education than U.S. News’ list, it nevertheless shows a rapid decline in the quality of education.

In 2018, Maine ranked 18th in the nation for quality of the education in the same study, marking a significant drop in quality over a relatively short time period.

In another 2024 report from the Maine Policy Institute, “,” the non-profit found that Maine has dropped significantly on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) ranking, which measures math and English proficiency among students.

Graph from “The Decline of Maine K-12 Education”

During the 1990s, Maine typically ranked first or second on the NAEP, but in 2022, Maine had dropped to 36th in the nation, with reading and math proficiency continuing its downward trend.