The Best States for Education in US

on 19/10/2018

Whether you like or not, life is full of measuring sticks. How old we are, how smart we are, how good our grades are. So, to be the best you have to be able to compete. The same thing is with education in the U.S. Do not worry, we are not going to fill our head with a lot of statistics, but the data is the greatest weapon in a struggle for a better life. We can’t predict your future, but we can tell you what the best U.S. states for education are and which one to choose to study in college.

State Education Rankings: On What Basis the Data Was Selected

Massachusetts is the state with the best education rating

Every three years OECD tests fifteen-year-olds around the world of the PISA and ranks countries based on the results. To choose the best state in the U.S. for education, we compared the 50 ones across two dimensions including 11 metrics on educational attainment, quality of education, and attainment gap.

Moreover, our experts also considered the percentage of the college-educated population, the number of its inhabitants with an associate degree or higher, the average undergraduate tuition to see the full picture of the state education rankings. Nothing gets past the professional writer. Did we consider high schools or colleges? We made a list based on performance in pre-Kindergarten, primary and secondary education, as well as in higher schooling and college education.

We have calculated the number of students enrolled in college, the graduation rates, tuition costs, and college debt. A substantial portion of the ranking is based on the international assessment of reading, mathematics and science literacy. Let’s see what we have got.

Best States for Education by Different Categories

Students choose universities by education rating

Before we name the state education rankings, we would like to review the best states in the U.S. for education based on the different categories separately. For example, the states with the highest average graduation rates, the number of in-state students, public colleges and universities, etc. So, if you are looking for the best states with high school graduation rate specifically, read on.

New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Delaware have the highest percentage of diploma holders. Despite the fact that the Cowboy State is at the bottom rank according to the number of schools, the quality of education in the state makes up for it. The average return on investment of graduates is $442,000 over the course of 20 years. Moreover, three years in a row Delaware ranks as the state with the highest average graduation rate (73%) in the U.S.

The highest percentage of associate’s degree or college-experienced adults are in California, Colorado, and Oregon. The number of in-state students in California is equal to 65%. Massachusetts, for example, is the number one state with the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders.

What about the overall picture? Here is a look at 5 the best states in the U.S. for education that came out on top based on 11 metrics.

Education Rating by State

Cambridge is one of the best universities by education rating

5. Virginia

For Virginia, it is not the debut appearance in the U.S. education ranking. You probably have heard about the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary and Virginia Tech that are among the best universities in the nation. This is not, of course, the only reason to rank Virginia in that position. It takes the third place based on the average graduation rates in the country (70%) and high in-state attendance rate.

Students here receive more financial support than the average U.S. students. They start young with 65.1% of three and four-years-olds enrolled in preschool. More than two-thirds of children in the state have parents with a college degree.

4. New Jersey

Approximately 80,000 high school students enrolled in the state’s public two- or four-year universities in New Jersey in 2018. Here students also feel more financial support with an adult earning more than a typical American. They are also benefiting from the support found in financially stable households. Among eleventh and twelfth graders, there are more high-advanced placement test scores per capita in New Jersey than in any other state.

3. Vermont

Vermont has the highest high school graduation rate of any state in the country at 93%. Here around $18,000 dollars is invested per pupil compared to the $11,000 on average nationwide. 45% of fourth graders score above the basic level on standardized tests. Moreover, the graduation rate in Vermont is 65%. So, I would recommend you to check out the list of its universities.

2. Connecticut

Connecticut’s education system ranks as fifth-best in the nation. Here a special attention is paid to the early childhood education programs. 66% of the state’s three- and four-year-old are enrolled in preschool when the nation’s average number is 45%. A half of the fourth graders are proficient in reading. No surprise, they score high in the national testing.

1. Massachusetts

What we can say? It is a “Massachusetts miracle”. Over the past two and a half decades the state’s public-school system comes to be regarded as the best in the nation. It began with what lawmakers called a crisis on education. Minority and in-come students were gathered in underperforming and overcrowded schools. The city of Brockton sued saying its students were being denied their right to an education under the stated constitution and it looked like Brockton was going to win. The legislature had to act before the court did.

The bill supporters had two main arguments: the first was that Massachusetts was not spending enough money on its schools, the second was that most kids rich or poor were not learning the skills they need to live and work in the 21st century America. All of this set the stage for what came to be known as the “grand bargain” the Education Reform Act.

On June 18th, 1993 the deal that constructed the educational world as we know it today was signed. With that signature came a wave of money – 2 billion dollars over 10 years. Plus, money was distributed according to a formula that sent more money to districts with a higher concentration of low-income and immigrant students.

Massachusetts really deserves to come in at number one. The state’s strong social and economic conditions contribute to relatively large school and college budgets and have bolstered graduation rates and help to drive up standardized test score. Older residents are also well-educated as this is the only U.S. state where more than half of all adults have a post-secondary degree.

If you did not find your state in this list, check out the full table with the top 10 best states for education in the U.S.



College Educated, %

Graduation rate

1. Massachusetts


58 %

2. Connecticut


62 %

3. Vermont


65 %

4. New Jersey


66 %

5. Virginia


70 %

6. Washington


49 %

7. Utah


43 %

8. Nebraska


55 %

9. Iowa


69 %

10. Delaware


73 %

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