Not all states are created equal. Every U.S. has brilliant and intelligent people who keep this country running and innovating every day. However, some states are smarter than others. Determining which states are the "smartest" is inherently contextual and subjective. This makes determining which states are the most intelligent a challenge.
Factors that Affect Educational Attainment
It’s important to know that income has an enormous impact on educational data. States with high numbers of higher-income families generally have higher-quality education systems and more people attending college. This, in turn, allows people to get higher-paying jobs, creating a cycle of access to higher education and higher-paying jobs.
Here are other factors that may affect students’ academic achievement that could vary by state and within states:
- Overall socioeconomic status of the state or city/area within the state
- Percentage of students who are learning English as a second language
- Class and curriculum structure, which is usually mandated by the state
- Norms and regulations that determine the school environment
- Standard testing requirements
On an individual level, the following can also affect student performance:
- Parental/family habits and involvement
- Family issues and instability
- Classmate relationships
- Teacher behavior and teaching methods
- Whether or not the holistic needs of students are met
Determining the Intelligence of Each State
The intelligence of each state can be ranked using the following measures:
An intelligence score is created for each state by determining the percentage-point difference between a state’s score and the national median score. Positive scores indicate that the state’s score was above the national median and negative scores indicate that the state’s score was below. Each state’s IQ value was doubled when the scores were added up.
Smartest States in the U.S.
While the data shows that some states are “smarter” than others, no one should treat residents of the “dumber” states as inferior. As previously mentioned above, many factors impact the quality of and level of education residents receive. These factors may be out of the population's control or not things that can immediately be changed.
The ten smartest states in the United States are:
The smartest states in the U.S. are located in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Massachusetts is the smartest state in the U.S. Massachusetts has the highest percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders at 42.1% of adults and graduate or professional degree holders at about 32.4%. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to MIT, Harvard, and several other high-ranked institutions. Massachusetts also has one of the highest household incomes in the state, allowing for more access to higher education.
Minnesota, the second-smartest state in the nation, consistently has the best SAT scores in the country, especially in math. The average SAT score in Minnesota is 1284. New Hampshire has impressive ACT scores, ranking second for the highest median ACT scores in the U.S. at 25.0. New Hampshire also has the fifth-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio in the country. A low pupil-to-teacher ratio helps students succeed as they receive more individual attention in the classroom.
As mentioned above, a state's median household income and overall economic status significantly impact educational quality and attainment Of the ten smartest states in the U.S., nine are above the national median of $63,179:
- Massachusetts ($86,345)
- Minnesota ($71,817)
- New Hampshire ($81,346)
- Connecticut ($72,812)
- Kansas ($63,938)
- Vermont ($70,006)
- Iowa ($68,718)
- New Jersey ($74,176)
- Colorado ($73,034)