Is your district located in one of America’s most-educated cities?

More highly educated cities and regions are better suited to withstand recessions and other economic shocks.

The most-educated cities in America might not all keep their spots at top of the rankings over the next few years if the nation experiences an uneven academic recovery. Most superintendents and their teams know all too well that achievement gaps between low- and high-poverty districts widened and standardized test scores dropped sizably in many schools.

Still, if your district is in a tech hub or is near a major university, there’s a better chance your hometown ranks higher on the list compiled this summer by the personal finance website, WalletHub. Those most-educated regions are also experiencing the highest growth

 “Throughout the United States, cities or regions with higher education institutes are registering growth,” said Aneesh Aneesh, professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is the No. 4-ranked city. “A quick look at the map of education levels will reveal that high-growth areas are also highly educated.”

The quality of a city’s public school systems was a key measurement, along with the share of adults 25 or older with high school or college diplomas. The availability of summer learning programs and racial and gender gaps in educational attainment also figured into the rankings. On a timely financial note, more highly educated cities and regions are better suited to withstand recessions and other economic shocks.

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Inequities are likely to persist as long as schools are primarily funded by property tax revenues, which, of course, will always be higher in more affluent communities. When these gaps begin in early childhood they make impacts through higher education and beyond, said F. Chris Curran, an associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Florida.

“Our greatest opportunity to improve the education and skills of our workforce comes through ensuring that all students receive equitable and high-quality educational experiences beginning in early childhood and continuing through higher education,” Curran said.

Here are the top 20 most-educated metropolitan areas:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  3. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va.
  4. Madison, Wisc.
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, Calif.
  6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.
  7. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C
  8. Raleigh-Cary, N.C. 77.08
  9. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.
  10. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas
  11. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
  12. Provo-Orem, Utah
  13. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  14. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.
  15. Trenton-Princeton, N.J.
  16. Portland-South Portland, Maine
  17. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore./Wash.
  18. Tallahassee, Fla.
  19. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.
  20. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.

The lowest-ranked cities tend to be in agricultural regions of California, along the U.S.-Mexican border and in west Texas. Visalia, in California’s Central Valley, ranked last at No. 150. Modesto to the north and neighboring Bakersfield came in at No. 146 and No. 147, respectively, while McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, followed.

More numbers from the most-educated cities

Top 10 on Quality of Education and Attainment Gap

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Fayetteville-Springdale, Rogers, AR
  • San Diego-Chula Vista, CA
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Lafayette, LA
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • McAllen, Edinburgh-Mission, TX
  • Honolulu, HI

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Highest percentage of high school diploma holders

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Madison, W
  • Provo, UT
  • Portland, M
  • Colorado Springs, CO

Lowest percentage of high school diploma holders

  • Brownsville, TX
  • McAllen, TX
  • Visalia, CA
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Lafayette, LA

Largest racial gap (favoring Black people/bachelor’s degrees)

  • Worcester, MA
  • Oxnard-Ventura, CA
  • Riverside-San Bernardino, CA
  • El Paso, TX
  • Albuquerque, NM

Largest racial gap (favoring white people/bachelor’s degrees)

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Richmond, VA
  • Bridgeport-Stamford, CT
  • Milwaukee, WI

Largest gender gap (facing women)

  • Anchorage, AK
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Lafayette, LA
  • Durham-Chapel Hill NC
  • Asheville, NC

Largest gender gap (facing men)

  • Greenville, SC
  • Manchester-Nashua, NH
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Albany, NY
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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