All 50 U.S. States and Where Their Education Ranks
Would you agree that the U.S.A. is quite large? 50 states make up this great body of land and although they are all part of the same red, white, and blue cloth, they have many differences. Their education system is no exception. In some states, people hold degrees by numbers while others have barely managed to earn a high school diploma.
Even though measuring education can be a challenge, several elements can be used to determine who has the best. Whether you’re just interested in seeing where your state ranks or where your next move should be here is the list you’re been looking for. 50 U.S. states as we know and love them, ranked based on their education system from lowest to highest.
50. West Virginia
To our surprise and maybe yours too, West Virginia ranks second worst in education. Teachers and students both face various challenges in this state. Educational professionals receive some of the worst salaries and can’t afford to make ends meet. Their struggle and stress make for some really struggling students as well.
Apparently, this news is nothing new as governments, both local and country, have been trying to find solutions to these challenges for a while but with little to no progress.
If someone asked you to guess what state was ranked the least educated would you have guessed right? Mississippi may be most known as that one state where no one can remember how many of each letter it includes or in what order. If you spell it out loud, a challenge in itself, it almost sounds like a cheer.
Well, in addition to all this, they are also known for being the least educated out of all 50 states when looking at their education quality and school structure. The U.S.A. gives this state a letter “D” grade.
Louisiana comes in at number 48th on this list. Not only is it ranked low in education but it is considered one of the most dangerous places to go to school. Not something you want to be top-ranked in, for sure.
It seems that the safety of the children within this school system is not prioritized. Do better Louisiana, for our children’s sake! This state has some of the most bullying and violence instances out of all the states as well as the weakest test scores.
There are several U.S. states that are ranked surprisingly low on this list and the reasons for this low education rankings are varied quite considerably. Some may be because of safety, some may be because teachers aren’t being paid enough, or something else entirely, like opportunities or low income.
Arkansas’s reasons for being low-ranked are exactly this. This state’s low education rank is considered a direct correlation to its high poverty rate and low average income. Arkansas is among the poorest states of the nation and it undisputedly affects the state’s education.
It was the best and worst of times as the line goes. Education matters in Alabama have progressed for the worse. This state is ranked as of the present number 46th in the worst education.
Overall Alabama is considered one of the worst states to live in so when it comes to their education, it seems that they are also one theme. This state has low safety, reading scores, and more, you name it, they’ve got it. Not in a good way.
Oklahoma isn’t the best place if you’re looking to get a good education. This state lacks funding and an even lower graduation rate from both high school and university.
Continuous budget cuts and low teacher salaries aren’t doing anyone any favors.
As the song goes, “started from the bottom now we’re here.” This is the first state that kicks off the bottom ten of this list. This state used to be among the last but although it is a slow journey to progress things seem to be looking up.
We are rooting for you Nevada! Partying and gambling seem to be a big focus here so if only they would shift their priorities towards education a little bit more.
Unlike the other low-ranked states on our list, Kentucky does not have as big of a par in education in comparison to various societies within the state. Men and women and different ethnicities have an overall similar level of education.
The plus side? If they can raise their education level then most likely it would improve for all residence in the state equally. We are rooting for you Kentucky!
42. New Mexico
The state of New Mexico does not only rank low in the education department but also in many other areas as well, such as healthcare.
It is safe to say that the schools here may be some of the worst in the whole country.
When it comes to the quality of education, Texas is rather ranked fairly high, however they are ranked low on this list because in comparision to other states people just aren’t attending school.
Residents may just not have proper access to schools so they are hindered and less inclined to seek out their education.
Although Tennessee has a high graduation rate, their education is ranked lower than many other states. It is the case for the simple and sad fact that many children drop out before high school.
Because countless students don’t make it to high school and are less likely to pursue higher education, the ones who do are usually the ones motivated to excel.
39. South Carolina
South Carolina being ranked 39 may not seem like much but considering where they started, they should be proud of themselves. We sure are! They used to be ranked low all across the board, education included but they’ve made some positive changes to their systems.
If they keep up these strides, they’ll be moving up in ranks in no time at all, not just in education. They are a prime example of how hard work pays off. Applause to you SC!
Apparently, Indiana offers a pretty good education overall, high school included although their early childhood education is lacking. This state is not ranked as the worst, they are comfortably in the middle but we don’t think they should get too comfortable.
A good foundation is the building blocks to success, and education is no exception. No is the time to invest in early childhood education development or they will suffer the consequences of this in the long term. They are notoriously known as having the worst early education system, not something we’d be too keen on being famous for.
Arizona may be ranked somewhere in the middle but looks can be deceiving. This state actually has some of the lowest graduation rates in the country. At the end of the day, this issue comes down to something as simple as language or lack there of. We condone Arizona for being very diverse, one of the most in the U.S. but with this amazing feat comes different challenges. These challenges are indeed language barriers. Children who don’t have strong English at home make it harder for them to communicate and learn.
Children who don’t have the ability or the opportunity to have strong English right off the bat have a staggered progression when it comes to education. especially when the systems in place are not adaptable for them to advance.
Budget cuts are a real struggle. Where a State cuts its budget can set the tone for its entire trajectory and Idaho is no exception. Idaho cut its education budget and it definitely shows in this state negatively. If you’re thinking of getting a good education, you may have second thoughts about Idaho and you’d be right.
Out of any other state, Idaho shockingly has the least amount of money set aside for education out of all 50 states.
35. South Dakota
This may get confusing, so we’ll break it down. In South Dakota, there is a considerably large amount of residents with a college degree perhaps more than a lot of States. How are they still ranked 35 you ask? Great question!
The answer is simple a lot of South Dakota natives once they get their good ole’ education look to transfer out and reside elsewhere. Plus their high drop-out rate doesn’t help. It’s safe to say they are all over the place, figuratively and literally speaking. It’s safe to say you may have a South Dakota native in your state sooner rather than later.
We love progress, don’t you? Ohio although not the strongest educated State has progressed two places up in rank than where they were previously. Moving your way up the education system is no easy feat. Every bit of progress counts!
Their education accessibility isn’t the friendliest but we hope their progression works in the direction to improve it. We are rooting for you Ohio!
Missouri’s education system ranks pretty decently in the middle of this list. It’s like they say, not too cold but not too hot, just right. What they do have in their favor is it is the best State when it comes to education affordability and overall satisfaction among students.
Missouri struggles to keep its teachers satisfied which may contribute to the drop in teachers within the workforce
Although Georgia doesn’t rank particularly high or low on this list we need to give them props for their school’s safety. On an even more positive note the gap between low-income areas when it comes to getting a quality education is closing.
Hopefully, it gets better before it gets worse.
Iowa is considered to have a quality curriculum when it comes to its education system. Their teachers are trained thoroughly and prepared to tackle the learning system.
It makes sense that these quality teachers impact the state’s education in such a way.
The state of Pennsylvania has an impressive high school graduation rate and many of these studious students go on to earn a BA, Masters or higher. The average 25-year-old plus has at least a high school diploma or above.
Public schooling options are accessible to households both traditional options as well as charter schools and technical schools to choose from. These options are also adaptable to students for both online and in-person preferences.
Even though Alaskan residents get a quality education, they are ranked 29 for the reason that this state has some of the biggest achievement gaps in the entire country.
When comparing this state to other states in America they have some of the lowest math and reading test scores.
California is considered a leader in many matters. When it comes to economy and population it has most states beat. California has one of the strongest economies, perhaps of all the states. When it comes to education though their education isn’t as leading as it would like it to be.
California and Texas seem to be in slight rivalry and although they do have similarities they both differ in their own right. California seems to be investing heavily in education these last few years so there may be some new positive advancements for this state if things go according to plan.
The Michigan Department of Education has implemented a standard for English Language and Mathematics studies relevant to education from Kindergarten through high school grade twelve. This ensures that the core curriculum of students is at the same level across the state.
26. North Carolina
This State gives its residents various opportunities to advance within the system and education is no different. They offer many growth opportunities when it comes to both professional and personal endeavors.
North Carolina has a thriving economy to match and attracts countless companies in the high-tech sector, such as IBM and Cisco Systems, among others.
Kansas has a decently high graduation rate. The overall number of college attendees in Kansas has increased over the years and many students attend traditional public schools across the state.
It is relatively easy and cheap to live and thrive in Kansas and their education system is doing pretty great to match. What’s not to love?
Wyoming may be one of the less talked about and memorable states among the 50 but when it comes to education, they should be put in the spotlight more.
They are constantly improving their education rank per year and their overall education system is even higher. One of the best facts about education in Wyoming is that it is considered one of the safest places to get an education and it is consistently moving up in all areas. Some would even say that they are a rising star.
23. North Dakota
The state of North Dakota has the biggest proportion of people with a high school diploma, equivalent (GED) or higher. When examining this state’s high school test scores alone, more students took college entry examinations such as the SAT or the ACT than any other.
Graduation rates for North Dakota are ranked in the first quintile which is nationally considered in the top 20% out of all the country’s states.
The state of Nebraska has one of the strongest public education systems in the country. Most students earn a higher education and have competitive test scores overall in both mathematics and reading comprehension.
The high school graduation rate in Nebraska alone is about 90%. Additionally, this state is low in crime and high in community values. They are as close-knit as they come, making it one of the safest, not to mention one of the most welcoming.
The state of Florida has 67 school districts, one for each county, independent from each respective county. The different districts claim property tax within their respective jurisdictions to support their set budgets. Additionally, this state has countless private schools by the hundreds.
This Sunshine State is said to have a sizable system when it comes to universities and colleges as well. They are considered a top-notch education state.
Wisconsin is an interesting bag of tricks. This state is reported to rank high in education systems when it comes to grades kindergarten through twelfth grade, but there are other factors that reveal that students in Wisconsin fall behind in other areas.
When it comes to funding, safety, teacher qualifications, and class sizes everything seems to round out.
We hate to say it Montana, but it seems you’re simply average, especially in public education. Reading and Math levels are more or less at the 50% mark. They have several high-performing school districts that balance them out on this list.
What is nice about Montana is that they also have high achievement in extracurriculars such as challenging and beneficial athletic programs that make for some well-rounded students.
When it comes to Maine, they have a 94% high school graduation rate or higher. This is considered as of current, the second-highest percentage of graduates at the high school level within the greater region that Maine is a part of.
I guess it’s safe to say that Maine is starring as a main character. Most average 25-year-olds and higher that reside in Maine have a high school diploma or better.
When you think of Hawaii, your first thought might be beaches and volcanos and not education, but they are raising the tide here too. Their schooling will give you are run for your money. Yet another reason to travel to Hawaii and fantasize about staying.
Even though they are ranked as one of the poorer states in the country, their education is climbing to greater heights. That’s quite impressive if you ask us.
Illinois ranks fairly high on this list of educated states. The children residing in this country are put into early education and pre-kindergarten at a considerably young age so that may have something to do with it. This state catches them early and it impacts their level of success and studying, we have no doubts.
Most of these youngins also have parents that are well educated with higher degrees of education which also plays a factor. You know what they say, lead by example, because it is the most effective. Children like to mimic the adults closest to them most of the time.
Oregon is ranked so high on this list because it truly has a strong education system and schools for the reason that countless big-name high-tech companies call this state home. These companies catch the eye of particularly educated people and the rest is history.
This means though that just because you’re native in the state you’re not necessarily the most educated but those Oregon transplants raise the numbers in Oregon’s favor. Oregon is home to the highest number of college degree holders but based on what we know this may be skewed due to people moving into the state for those fancy high-tech jobs.
14. New York
New York residents are some of the most educated in the country but it is no surprise. They do have some of the highest-rated universities in the country so it makes sense.
This parallels their general education as well and these smart students live mainly in New York City.
Delaware has a surprisingly small budget when it comes to education, but they are still ranked rather high. They are in the top 20 states for highest education.
They are about 1% less in budget in comparison to the average of all the states and still, they are climbing the ranks and beating most all. Why you ask? We think it may have something to do with them being among the smallest of states. They may be small but they sure are mighty.
12. Rhode Island
Rhode Island historically has more teacher absences than any other state and yet they are still on the up and up. They continue to have proficient learning and literacy rates throughout.
This state has teamed up with both federal and state regulations and laws to ensure that every student has their education rights met. Having basic education rights for all students is a priority for this state regardless of their background and residence within the state.
Washington is considered one of the happiest states in the U.S.A. so it makes sense that they are also ranked high when it comes to education. They rank the highest in adults who have a degree and a high, high school graduation rate.
Another great achievement for Washington is that their educational attainment between genders is at one of the smallest gaps out of anywhere in the country.
This Beehive State is one of the most educated states around. Although famous for its great hikes and views, another great thing to know about this state is that it ranks 3rd highest in university quality and 2nd highest in adults with degrees.
Utah has a pretty impressive story to tell when it comes to education and we hope this state keeps up this wonderful story for years to come.
Although Minnesota is considered one of the poorer states, they are on top when it comes to their education. How, you ask? They prioritize it! As a result of this prioritization, they are highly ranked and aren’t letting their finances get in the way of their education system.
Public schools have high budgets and are funded really well despite state struggles.
8. New Hampshire
Great education and the smallest educational attainment gaps, should be New Hampshire’s new slogan. It’s true, through and through although their education quality can use a bit of work. Not everyone is perfect but as long as they are willing to work on it they are headed for great things.
They most certainly have bragging rights when it comes to being the second-highest percentage of high school graduates.
Virginia is on the up and up when it comes to education. This state is taking matters into its own hands and it seems to be working. Virginia has some of the highest test scores and the wealthiest. We think it’s safe to say there is a correlation between them.
Extra funding in the education system always helps for successful results and this state has plenty to spare.
6. New Jersey
New Jersey, also known as the Garden State, has crept its way to the top, becoming the cream of the crop. Although they have some extreme education gaps when it comes to different races, they have some strong things to offer.
This state is a great place to live when it comes to children’s education but their higher education could use some improvement.
Colorado is ranked in the top 5 for a reason. They have some of the most wonderful school systems, not to mention beautiful scenery encapsulated in mountains and nature.
It’s a great time for the whole family, kids’ education included, and childhood development.
Vermont is also considered one of the wealthiest states in the country, so it’s no wonder that it ranks so high. Where there is wealth there is usually a strong level of education because there is more money to invest.
Vermont has some of the highest spending budgets per student of any state in the country. This state additionally offers various opportunities in education for a variety of incomes.
Connecticut has a high percentage of kids who are enrolled in school early on, this contributes largely to their highly rated ranking.
In Connecticut about 66% of kids are enrolled in preschool, making this state’s average 16% higher than the average at a national level. Because preschool enrollment is so high, Kindergarten attendance is also high. It makes sense because if you’re already in the school system at such a young age, you’re most likely to continue and excel.
Maryland, the land of the free, is known as “the free state” by many. They are ranked very high in most educational categories. Many people hold degrees and have attended higher education beyond high school. They are also considerably wealthy, like most states that excel and hold top spots on this list.
When it comes to the average family income in the state of Maryland they have the highest in the country, which is almost directly correlated to more opportunities, both in and out of the school system.
Massachusetts ends this list, having the highest education out of all 50 states. With top universities that are highly coveted and highly regarded such as MIT and Harvard, how can you even be surprised? It makes perfect sense that these state natives take their education to the next level.
These residents don’t play around when dealing with their education. They outrank all states by a landslide in all areas of education and they don’t have any signs of slowing down. They are the state to beat.