Education is an extremely important institution around the world. Education is a dominant factor in determining how developed a country is, reduces poverty, boosts the economy, and promotes peace. In the United States, the quality of education and educational attainment level one receives strongly correlate with median incomes.
Whether you're a soon-to-be college student trying to figure out your next move after high school graduation or you have children in your household, there's one thing that both have in common: the desire to find the best schools. A great school system is a selling point for homes on the market, and college students are willing to pay extra money to attend out-of-state schools. These examples are just two that show how important education is to many people.
While there are great schools in every state in the U.S., some states have special school districts and higher learning institutions that stand out above the rest. Some states are also more educated than others.
There isn't just one setlist of the best schools, however. Many publications and think tanks have created their lists of the best states for education based on several factors. When selecting a state with the best schools, it's best to figure out what's most important for your situation and look at the data surrounding that.
Educational attainment strongly correlates with median incomes and a person's overall standard of living. Educational attainment is impacted by several factors, including socioeconomic status and students' urban/rural location. The ten states with the highest educational attainment are the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. Unsurprisingly, seven of these states are also among the top ten states for school rankings, according to WalletHub. Nine are in the top 20.
WalletHub ranked every state's public schools for "Quality" and "Safety" using 33 metrics. Among these were math and reading scores, median SAT and ACT scores, pupil-to-teacher ratio, high school graduation rate among low-income students, and bullying incidents. Unlike other research on the best schools, WalletHub's analysis is more comprehensive in that it considers performance, safety, class size, funding, and instructor credentials. Based on these metrics, the states with the best school systems, in order, are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Maryland. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maryland are all in both the states with the highest educational attainment and the states with the best school systems.
Massachusetts has the best-ranked public schools in the United States and is the second-most educated state, just behind the District of Columbia. About 90.40% of Massachusetts adults have a high school diploma, and 42.90% have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Almost half of the state's public schools are ranked in the top 25% of high school rankings. Massachusetts also boasts the highest math and reading test scores and a median ACT score of 25.1.
Connecticut has the second-best public school system in the U.S. and is the fifth-most educated state. Connecticut's median ACT score of 25.5 is the highest in the country. It also has the highest per-pupil spending at about $18,958 per student. Connecticut is also considered to be one of the best states for teachers.
New Jersey has the third-best public schools. New Jersey ranks second for the lowest dropout rate and reading test scores. Additionally, it ranks third for the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio and math test scores. New Jersey spends about $21,866 per student and is the second-best state for teachers. Teachers get paid an average of $69,917 per year in New Jersey. New Jersey has the fifth-highest educational attainment in the country.
Ranked fourth for its school systems is in Virginia. Virginia is the seventh-most educated U.S. state, with 38.2% of adults having a Bachelor's degree or higher. Virginia has one of the lowest bullying incidence rates in the U.S. and ranks fourth for math test scores.
Vermont ranks fifth for the best public schools and has the eighth-most educated population in the U.S. Vermont has the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio of 10.5:1, allowing teachers to give extra attention to each student. Vermont is tied with Massachusetts and Oklahoma for the lowest percentage of threatened/injured high school students.
Vermont's neighbor New Hampshire has the sixth-best public schools and the ninth-highest education attainment. About 36.50% of New Hampshire adults have at least a Bachelor's degree or higher. New Hampshire schools have the second-highest median ACT score of 25.1. New Hampshire's pupil-to-teacher ratio is 12:1, the fifth-lowest in the country.
In seventh place is Minnesota, which has the highest median SAT score in the country, 1298. Minnesota ranks sixth overall for quality and has the second-highest math test scores in the country. Despite concerns over Minnesota's declining performance in math and reading scores, graduation rates for all student groups have increased in public schools. Minnesota has the second-highest high school diploma attainment rate in the U.S. at 93%.
Wisconsin has the eighth-best public schools. 91.90% of Wisconsin adults have at least a high school diploma. Wisconsin ties with Minnesota for the highest median SAT score of 1298. Additionally, Wisconsin's pupil-to-teacher ratio is 15:1, lower than the U.S. average of 16:1.
Delaware schools rank 15th overall for quality and second for safety. Delaware has the second-lowest bullying incident rate and has an above-average ACT score of 24.1. Delaware does fall behind in pupil-to-teacher ratio, which is 22:1, above the national average.
Maryland tops the top ten list of states with the best public schools. Maryland also has the fourth-highest education attainment in the U.S., with 39.60% of adults having a Bachelor's degree or higher. Maryland schools have a pupil-to-teacher ratio of 15:1. The average ACT score is 22.3, and the average SAT score is 1058.