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The District Reference Groups (DRGs) are a classification system that groups local and regional public school districts together based on the similar socioeconomic status of their students. Developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), the DRGs have not been officially updated since they were first released in 2006.

Using the same methodology and variables used by the CSDE in the original creation of the DRGs, the School and State Finance Project has updated the DRGs for 2023 using the most recent data. Similar to the DRGs we created in 2016, these 2023 DRGs are not official and meant only for research and reference use.

The DRGs were originally created to make comparisons among districts and to provide both district leaders and policymakers with helpful context when making resource decisions. The DRGs were not, however, created to rank districts and schools, or provide an indicator of school quality.

Although the DRGs provide a way for district leaders and policymakers to make comparisons between districts, they fail to account for the experience of students, and the barriers that lead to, and exacerbate, disparities in education opportunities and outcomes. The DRGs are part of the picture in understanding education in Connecticut but must be complemented with an understanding of segregation, resources, staffing, and outcomes.

DRG Variables

The CSDE used seven variables to determine the original DRGs in 2006, with each variable being based on families with children attending public school. The School and State Finance Project used the same variables — updated with the most recent available data — to determine the updated 2023 DRGs. These variables include:

  • Income - Median Household Income
  • Education - Percentage of parents with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Occupation - Percentage of students with parents aged 16 or older, employed, and holding jobs in executive, managerial, and professional specialty occupations
  • Family Structure - Percentage of students living with families without a wife or husband present or in non-family households
  • Poverty - Percentage of students from families with incomes eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals
  • Home Language - Percentage of students whose families speak a language other than English at home
  • District Enrollment - Gross enrollment for the local public school district

Districts by DRG

Use the map and table below to explore the DRGs for each Connecticut local and regional school district and, in the case of the map, to see how districts' DRGs have changed over the years and where districts in each DRG are primarily concentrated.

Click or hover over each district to see its DRG, or search for a specific district by clicking the magnifying glass to the left of the map below the legend. To view how districts' DRGs have changed over the years, use the selector menu in the upper left corner to view a map of the original 2006 DRGs or the 2016 DRGs that were created by the School and State Finance Project.

School districts missing data in 2016 and/or 2023 have been excluded from the DRG classification as it was not possible to determine their proper DRG without their complete data set. These districts are shaded in gray in the maps for 2016 and 2023.

The table below lists each Connecticut local and regional public school district and its 2023 DRG. Use the search function to find a specific district, or scroll through the table using the arrows in the bottom right corner of the table to view the districts in each DRG.

School districts missing 2023 data have been excluded from the DRG classification as it was not possible to determine their proper DRG without their complete data set. These districts are shaded in gray and listed at the end of this table.

District Segregation

Connecticut has an almost equal number of white and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students. However, by and large, Connecticut's school districts do not represent this diverse student population. Instead, the segregation across Connecticut's cities and towns has a direct impact on the racial and economic makeup of Connecticut's school districts. Most students in Connecticut attend a district where more than 75% of the students are white, or a district where more than 75% of the students are BIPOC.

Districts with higher percentages of BIPOC students also tend to serve students with greater needs. However, the districts serving these students often do not receive equitable funding that reflects the needs of their students. This has resulted in districts with greater needs, and more students of color, spending less per student. While districts with higher percentages of white students spend more per student despite serving students with fewer learning needs.

Learn more about segregation and education in Connecticut

Use the interactive bar chart below to view the average student demographics for each DRG for the 2022-23 school year. Click on the buttons near the top of the chart to see data for different student demographic categories.

Categories include the percentage of BIPOC students enrolled in each DRG, the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in each DRG, and the percentage of students who are multilingual learners in each DRG.

District Spending

Approximately 58% of all education funding in Connecticut comes from local property taxes, making it the most significant source of revenue for school districts. However, the value of taxable property, as well as community wealth, varies greatly across Connecticut's municipalities.

As a result, a system has been created where it is easier for wealthier, property rich communities to raise revenue from property taxes — and in turn fund their local public schools — than it is for less affluent or economically disadvantaged communities. Neighboring towns or cities with similar student populations can spend vastly different amounts per student due to the reliance on local property taxes to fund municipal services, such as public education.

Learn more about district & school spending
Learn more about the role of property taxes in education funding

Use the interactive bar chart below to view the average total per-student spending for districts in each DRG for the 2021-22 school year (the most recent year of available data). Click or hover on a funding source in the chart's legend, or hover over a piece of a bar in the chart, to view each DRG's average per-student spending from local, state, federal, or other funding sources.

Staffing Levels & Salaries

For every Connecticut school district, the largest expense is its personnel, including salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators, and staff. However, staffing levels vary across districts, leading to differences in class sizes and access to crucial support services, which can affect a student’s educational success and well-being.

The ability to attract and retain highly-qualified educators also differs greatly across the state and is in large part the result of significant funding disparities between districts. In general, wealthier communities are able to offer higher paying salaries and greater resources to teachers, which frequently leaves less affluent districts with greater staffing shortages and/or less experienced, under-resourced staff.

Learn more about staffing levels & demographics

The table below highlights teacher pay disparities by DRG and includes compensation rates from a sample district in each DRG for first-year and experienced teachers with either a bachelor's or master's degree.

Student Performance

Student performance is impacted by a number of different factors, including, but certainly not limited to, how much funding a district receives and how a district uses its funding and resources to support students and their learning needs. Analyzing the DRGs and their associated data reveals vastly different experiences for students. Students in wealthy, suburban communities, which are predominantly white and feature higher-funded schools, tend to perform better on standardized tests. While students in less affluent, predominately urban communities, which serve the majority of Connecticut's BIPOC students and feature historically underfunded schools, tend to perform well below their peers.

Since Connecticut's education system relies so greatly on funding from local property tax revenue, some towns may struggle to support their schools adequately, which can impact the experience and resources available to students and their success inside and outside of the classroom. Research has shown that increasing investment in K-12 education — especially in areas that are economically disadvantaged — improves student outcomes, benefits the state overall, and helps close the opportunity gap. However, it is important to note that school performance is only one indicator for student outcomes, and many other factors can contribute to the overall success and achievement of students.

Learn more about Spending & Performance
Learn more about Benefits of Public Investment in K-12 Education

Use the buttons below to explore student performance for each DRG, and to see how districts in and across DRGs compare in per-student spending and academic performance.

To be consistent in how performance data is displayed and compared, the charts and graphs in this section look at average student performance for districts on standardized tests for math and English/language arts, including the SBAC (grades 3-8), the CT Alternate Assessment (grades 3-8), and the SAT (grade 11). The scores displayed, also referred to as "Performance Indexes," are measured on a scale of 0-100 with a score of 75 being the State of Connecticut's performance target for districts.

The bar chart below displays the average performance of students in each DRG on standardized tests. Use the drop-down menu in the upper left corner to switch between math and English/language arts scores.

The scatter plot below displays the per-student spending and average performance for students in each district on standardized tests, and identifies each district according to its DRG. Use the arrows in the upper left corner to switch between math and English/language arts scores.

Click or hover over a point on the scatter plot to reveal a district, its DRG, its average performance score, and its per-student spending. You may also select a specific district using the drop-down menu located below the arrows in the upper left corner.

To view all districts in a specific DRG, click on the circle in the legend at the top of the graph for the DRG you want to view. To reset the graph and view all the DRGs and districts, simply click the circle you selected again.


Grouping school districts, like DRGs, is a complex task due to the diverse nature of Connecticut’s districts. These systems provide a means for district leaders and policymakers to make comparisons but often fall short in considering the individual experiences of students and the barriers that contribute to educational disparities. DRGs offer only one look at the complex education system in Connecticut and must be complemented with an understanding of segregation, district spending, staffing, and student outcomes. By considering these factors, decision-makers can begin addressing the challenges in education and ensuring equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.

To improve the effectiveness of the DRGs classification system, several recommendations should be considered:

  1. Account for Overlapping Variables: This system should account for overlapping variables that exhibit strong correlations to avoid redundancy and provide a more accurate reflection of district characteristics. For example, income and occupation are highly correlated, and including both variables may be duplicative.
  2. Center Student Experience: This system should place a greater emphasis on data that directly pertains to the educational experiences of students, rather than solely relying on community or family attributes.
  3. Include Small Districts: Efforts should be made to include data that is more readily available and applicable to smaller districts, ensuring they are not disadvantaged (or not included) in the grouping process.
  4. Simplify the Classification System: Simplifying the grouping structure by reducing the number of groups and eliminating the ranking of districts can lead to a more straightforward and equitable system. This would align with the broader goal of providing a quality education to all students while addressing disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes.

The School and State Finance Project uses BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) to refer to individuals who self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Hispanic/Latino of any race; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; or two or more races. Student demographic categories and data used in the visualizations on this page come from the CSDE.

The acronym BIPOC is used in an effort to be as inclusive, succinct, and accurate as possible when using racial and ethnic demographics in our work. However, we know no single acronym, identifier, or label can accurately define an individual or fully encompass the rich diversity of cultures, heritages, and backgrounds represented in the demographic data we use. For questions or comments about the demographic terms we use, please contact us at