These are 2024’s most—and least—educated states

K12 school quality doesn't necessarily guarantee a student higher earning potential but there's certainly a correlation, researchers at WalletHub report.

“A good education is a ticket to a better future.” Generally speaking, this has been the case for years. Research shows that the higher the level of education an individual earns, the better their earning potential becomes. And in some states across the U.S., students may have more opportunities to do so.

That’s according to WalletHub’s latest analysis of the “Most and Least Educated States in America (2024).” In this study, researchers assessed the education quality of each state based on three measures: educational attainment, school quality and achievement gaps between races and genders.

“Getting a good education doesn’t guarantee high future earnings and better opportunities, but there’s a definite correlation,” WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe wrote in the report.

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According to the data, Massachusetts ranks as the most educated state in the country. The authors make note of the state’s exceptional public and private school systems and its performance compared to other states in reading and math, per the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

It’s also known for its prestigious college and university systems, which include institutions such as MIT and Harvard. As a result, Massachusetts has the highest percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a Bachelor’s degree (~46%).

Source: WalletHub

However, while K12 school quality somewhat influences a student’s future experiences, it doesn’t necessarily determine whether a student will go on to earn a postsecondary degree, wrote Andrew Furco, professor and associate chair for the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota.

“Each student is part of an ecosystem where familial, economic, societal, educational, political, religious and other forces come to bear on that individual’s life experiences,” he wrote in the report. “These forces collectively interact with an individual’s abilities, talents, interests and passions in ways that form the various pathways that students can choose or not choose to follow.”

Here’s the complete list of the most educated states in the U.S. (ordered from best to worst):

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Vermont
  3. Maryland
  4. Connecticut
  5. Colorado
  6. Virginia
  7. New Jersey
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Minnesota
  10. Washington
  11. Utah
  12. Delaware
  13. Illinois
  14. Montana
  15. New York
  16. Rhode Island
  17. Oregon
  18. Hawaii
  19. Maine
  20. Wisconsin
  21. Florida
  22. North Carolina
  23. Kansas
  24. Nebraska
  25. North Dakota
  26. Pennsylvania
  27. Michigan
  28. Wyoming
  29. California
  30. Georgia
  31. Alaska
  32. Missouri
  33. Iowa
  34. South Dakota
  35. Ohio
  36. Arizona
  37. Idaho
  38. South Carolina
  39. Tennessee
  40. Indiana
  41. Texas
  42. New Mexico
  43. Kentucky
  44. Nevada
  45. Alabama
  46. Oklahoma
  47. Arkansas
  48. Louisiana
  49. Mississippi
  50. West Virginia
Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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