2014′s States with the Best and Worst School Systems

Aug 7, 2014 by

Unless one is destined to assume the ranks of wildly successful college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, education remains the traditional route to financial success for many Americans. Consider the median incomes for workers aged 25 and older in 2013. Those with a bachelor’s degree earned 59 percent more than those with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure grows — and chances of unemployment shrink — as a worker’s educational attainment improves.

And with school resuming session, many parents will seek the best school districts in order to secure the greatest chance for their children’s academic success — and higher future earning potential. In comparing schools, it’s important to recognize that though the amount of state funding a school receives can be helpful, it is by no means a determinant of quality.

In addition, states that invest more dollars in education benefit not only their residents but also their economies. The Economic Policy Institute, or EPI, reported that income is higher in states where the workforce is well educated and hence more productive. With higher incomes, workers in turn can contribute more in taxes to beef up state budgets over the long run.

In light of back-to-school season, WalletHub studied the quality of education in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to identify those with the best and worst school systems. We did so by analyzing 12 key metrics — from student-teacher ratios and dropout rates to test scores and bullying incident rates. By shining the spotlight on top-performing states in terms of education, WalletHub can encourage parents to help their children realize their maximum potential.

 

 

Overall Rank

State

School System Quality Rank

Education Output & Safety Rank

1 New Jersey 1 2
2 Massachusetts 2 12
3 Vermont 3 11
4 New Hampshire 4 15
5 Kansas 8 3
6 Colorado 13 1
7 Virginia 10 4
8 Minnesota 6 31
9 Wisconsin 7 20
10 Pennsylvania 5 43
11 Iowa 9 19
12 Texas 24 5
13 Connecticut 11 38
14 Maryland 16 27
15 Washington 14 50
16 Ohio 21 15
T-17 Illinois 20 24
T-17 Maine 12 42
19 Missouri 22 13
20 New York 27 7
21 Utah 28 8
22 Indiana 19 33
23 Nebraska 17 34
24 South Dakota 25 18
25 Wyoming 15 45
26 North Dakota 18 47
27 Idaho 26 34
28 Tennessee 32 6
29 Florida 29 22
30 Montana 23 48
31 Rhode Island 31 29
32 Georgia 35 13
33 Oregon 30 41
34 Delaware 37 21
35 Hawaii 36 25
36 Oklahoma 43 9
37 North Carolina 38 17
38 Alaska 42 23
39 California 33 51
40 Michigan 34 44
41 Kentucky 40 39
42 South Carolina 44 28
43 Arizona 41 37
44 Arkansas 39 49
45 West Virginia 45 26
46 New Mexico 46 10
47 Nevada 47 36
48 Louisiana 49 40
49 Alabama 48 46
50 Mississippi 51 30
51 District of Columbia 50 31
Best_Worst_Back_To_School_States_080414-5
High Spending & Strong School SystemLow Spending & Weak School SystemMixedNJMAVTNHNDKSCOVAMNWIPAIATXCTMDWAOHILMEMONYUTINNESDWYIDTNFLMTRIGAORDEHIOKNCAKCAMIKYSCAZARWVNMNVLAALMSDC015304560015304560Spendings Ranking (1=Highest)School System Ranking (1=Best Quality)
Note: Spendings Ranking refers to “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per Student” (Highest Amount = Rank 1)

Ask the Experts

Back-to-school season isn’t just about shopping for school supplies. Many parents also must consider the quality of education their children receive in order to succeed. To expand the discussion, we’ve asked a panel of experts to share their advice and thoughts on important back-to-school-related issues. Click on the expert’s profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?
  2. How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility?
  3. How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?
  4. What are the most important characteristics of a top school?
  5. When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

Methodology

As back-to-school season arrives, WalletHub compared the school systems among the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. We used 12 key metrics, including student-teacher ratios, dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. By highlighting the best school systems, families relocating in the near future can use the available information to compare schools for their children.

The corresponding weights we used are shown below. The two categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings.

School System Rank

  • Presence of Public Schools from one State in Top 700 Best US Schools: 1
  • Remote Learning Opportunities from Online Public Schools: 1
  • Dropout Rates: 1
  • % of Children Who Repeated One or More Grades: 1
  • Bookworms Rank: 0.5
  • Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 1
  • Math Test Scores: 1
  • Reading Test Scores: 1

Education Output & Safety

  • Safest Schools (Percentage of Public School Students in Grades 9–12 who Reported being Threatened or Injured with a Weapon on School Property): 1
  • Bullying Incidents Rate: 1
  • Percentage of People (25+) with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: 0.5
  • Champlain University High School Financial Literacy Grade: 1

Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Education Association, the Kids Count – Anney E. Casey Foundation, the Center for Financial Literacy – Champlain College, Stopbullying.gov, U.S. News & World Report and K12.com.

2014′s States with the Best and Worst School Systems | WalletHub®.

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