The quality of a community’s schools is central to any family’s aspirations. Public education has largely been a local matter for school boards and states that allocate most of their funding. Yet for the past several decades, the federal government has entered the field in important and often disputed ways. With the No Child Left Behind Act, President George W. Bush put in place requirements that schools demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” based on standardized student testing. The law was replaced during the Obama administration with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Many states also coordinated with the federal government in Common Core standards for basic curriculum. Now Republicans are promoting another direction based on charter schools, privately run schools operated with public oversight and funding, and school choice, enabling parents to decide which public or private schools their children attend with public funding.
Massachusetts ranks as the No. 1 Best State in education, by all these measures – New Jersey No. 2. Several other Eastern Seaboard states stand out – New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. And some Midwestern and Western states also rank in the top 10 in education: Nebraska, Iowa, Utah and Washington. More than half the states that rank in the top 10 in education also rank in the top 10 overall in the Best States ranking.
|Education Ranking||State||Higher Education||Pre-K - 12|
The states were ranked on performance in higher education as well as primary and secondary schooling and pre-K education. The measures included percentages of adults with associate’s degrees or higher, the rates of students completing public four-year and two-year college programs within 150 percent of the normal time, the average tuition and fees for in-state students at public institutions and the average debt load of graduates from public and private, colleges alike. The states also were ranked on percentages of children enrolled in preschool and on 10 basic criteria for the quality of preschools, including teacher training, class size and teacher-to-student ratios. They were compared in national testing of eighth-graders in math and reading, in rates of graduation from high school and readiness for college.
With the Best States platform and its powerful navigation tools, see why Massachusetts and others have ranked so highly and which states have some work to do. Compare your own state with others for an understanding of what all have to learn from one another. And create concise, quick charts to share with others concerned about what makes some states stronger than others.