Educational Performance of States: A State-by-State Snapshot

Educational performance varies substantially across states in the U.S.

The State of the States in Education [MS PowerPoint, 16.9MB] shows the 10 highest and lowest performing states (based on 2009 data) on basic indicators of educational performance:

  • Percent of students, by state, deemed proficient in 4th and 8th grade reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for students overall, with separate state-by-state comparisons for Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and students with disabilities.
  • Four-year on-time high school graduation rates, by state, with separate state-by-state comparisons for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.
  • State-by-state college-going rate of high school graduates.
  • State-by-state three-year college graduation rates for Associate's Degrees.
  • State-by-state six-year college graduation rates for Bachelor's Degrees.

The disparities in educational performance highlight that state and local governments have a major impact on student outcomes and the rigor of state standards—larger than many Americans may realize.

In 8th grade math, for example, students in Massachusetts and Minnesota are two to three times as likely to be proficient on the NAEP assessment as students in West Virginia and Mississippi. Large differences in performance persist, even when White students, Black students, and Hispanic students are compared to their peers in other states.

Similar disparities are evident when comparing high school graduation, college matriculation, and college attainment. Hispanic students are more than twice as likely to graduate on time from high school if they live in Illinois and New Jersey than if they live in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Demography plainly influences state educational performance. But state-by-state disparities of such magnitude suggest that demography is not destiny in determining student achievement and attainment. State policies matter.

These maps and tables present a surprising amount of variation. States that excel on some measures of educational performance perform poorly in other areas. States that lag in one area of educational performance are leaders on other indices of performance and policy.

See the tables and maps in the State of the States in Education [MS PowerPoint, 16.9MB].

For more extensive data on the educational performance of states, please see the Department's dashboard at http://dashboard.ed.gov/.

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Last Modified: 09/26/2011