Education is essential. In September 2015, world leaders created the 17 Global Goals for sustainable development. These goals aimed to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by 2030. At the core of each of these goals is education. Education is the best way for people to improve their quality of life by decreasing their chances of unemployment, increasing their earning potential, and meeting their career goals.
About 90% of the U.S. population over 25 have a high school diploma, and 34% have a Bachelor's degree. The national education budget in 2016-2017 was $1.3 trillion, the majority of which came from state and local governments. The U.S. spends more on education than any other country in the world. Education in the United States includes public schools, private schools, and approved homeschooling. State governments set education standards. Depending on the state, education is compulsory starting between five and eight up until between ages 16 and 18. Additionally, states typically mandate standardized tests for K-12 public school systems.
The Least Educated States
Education varies between states. Wallethub compared all 50 U.S. states using 20 different metrics across two dimensions: Educational Attainment and Quality of Education. These metrics included share of adults over 25 years old with a high school diploma/some college/at least a Bachelor’s degree/etc., quality of public school systems, public high school graduation rate, enrolled students in top universities, public college graduation rate, and more. Each state was given a score of zero to 100, with 100 being the "most educated." Each state's weighted average across all metrics was then determined to rank the states. Below are the country's least educated states, according to Wallethub.
West Virginia is the least educated U.S. state, with an overall score of 23.65. West Virginia ranks last for Educational Attainment with the lowest shares of people with associate degrees or some college experience and those with Bachelor's degrees, at 20.6%. West Virginia also has the fourth-lowest average university quality. Mississippi has a score of 25.18. As the second-least educated state, it ranks 49th for Educational Attainment and 44th for Quality of Education. Mississippi has the third-lowest share of high school diploma holders at 84.5%, the second-lowest share of Bachelor's degree holders, and the fifth-lowest share of both people with associate's degrees or college experience and graduate degree holders.
Louisiana holds the third-place spot for the least educated states. Louisiana has a score of 25.72 and ranks 48th for Educational Attainment and 44th for Quality of Education. Louisiana has the fourth-lowest share of high school diploma holders and Bachelor's degree holders, the second-lowest share of associates degree holders, and the fourth-lowest share of graduate degree holders. Arkansas's score is 30.06 out of 100. Arkansas is in 47th for Educational Attainment, and its Quality of Education rank is a slight improvement at 31. Arkansas has the third-lowest share of associates, Bachelor's, and graduate degree holders. Alabama is the country's fifth-least educated state. Alabama's Education Attainment rank is 45, and its Quality of Education rank is 41, with a total score of 32.29. About 22% of Alabama adults have a Bachelor's degree or higher, which is lower than the 25% nationwide average; however, this gap is closing.