2014′s States with the Best and Worst School Systems

by Richie Bernardo

2014-Back-to-School-States-with-the-Best-and-Worst-School-Systems-BadgesUnless one is destined to assume the ranks of wildly successful college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, education remains the traditional route to financial success for many Americans. Consider the median incomes for workers aged 25 and older in 2013. Those with a bachelor’s degree earned 59 percent more than those with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure grows — and chances of unemployment shrink — as a worker’s educational attainment improves.

And with school resuming session, it's a good time to reflect on which school districts offer the greatest chance for children’s academic success — and higher future earning potential. In comparing schools, it’s important to recognize that though the amount of state funding a school receives can be helpful, it is by no means a determinant of quality.

In addition, states that invest more dollars in education benefit not only their residents but also their economies. The Economic Policy Institute, or EPI, reported that income is higher in states where the workforce is well educated and hence more productive. With higher incomes, workers in turn can contribute more in taxes to beef up state budgets over the long run.

In light of back-to-school season, WalletHub studied the quality of education in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to identify those with the best and worst school systems. We did so by analyzing 12 key metrics — from student-teacher ratios and dropout rates to test scores and bullying incident rates. By shining the spotlight on top-performing states in terms of education, WalletHub can encourage parents to help their children realize their maximum potential.

Main Findings

 

Overall Rank

State

School System Quality Rank

Education Output & Safety Rank

1 New Jersey 1 2
2 Massachusetts 2 12
3 Vermont 3 11
4 New Hampshire 4 15
5 Kansas 8 3
6 Colorado 13 1
7 Virginia 10 4
8 Minnesota 6 31
9 Wisconsin 7 20
10 Pennsylvania 5 43
11 Iowa 9 19
12 Texas 24 5
13 Connecticut 11 38
14 Maryland 16 27
15 Washington 14 50
16 Ohio 21 15
T-17 Illinois 20 24
T-17 Maine 12 42
19 Missouri 22 13
20 New York 27 7
21 Utah 28 8
22 Indiana 19 33
23 Nebraska 17 34
24 South Dakota 25 18
25 Wyoming 15 45
26 North Dakota 18 47
27 Idaho 26 34
28 Tennessee 32 6
29 Florida 29 22
30 Montana 23 48
31 Rhode Island 31 29
32 Georgia 35 13
33 Oregon 30 41
34 Delaware 37 21
35 Hawaii 36 25
36 Oklahoma 43 9
37 North Carolina 38 17
38 Alaska 42 23
39 California 33 51
40 Michigan 34 44
41 Kentucky 40 39
42 South Carolina 44 28
43 Arizona 41 37
44 Arkansas 39 49
45 West Virginia 45 26
46 New Mexico 46 10
47 Nevada 47 36
48 Louisiana 49 40
49 Alabama 48 46
50 Mississippi 51 30
51 District of Columbia 50 31
Best_Worst_Back_To_School_States_080414-5
Note: Spendings Ranking refers to “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per Student” (Highest Amount = Rank 1)

Ask the Experts

Back-to-school season isn’t just about shopping for school supplies. Many parents also must consider the quality of education their children receive in order to succeed. To expand the discussion, we’ve asked a panel of experts to share their advice and thoughts on important back-to-school-related issues. Click on the expert’s profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?
  2. How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility?
  3. How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?
  4. What are the most important characteristics of a top school?
  5. When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?
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Rebecca A. Maynard

University Trustee Professor of Education and Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

From the perspective of a parent, the one thing I recommend (for communities/schools, not parents, because they are not in control) is that stricter, more limiting dress codes can be very helpful. When my children switched to a school with a very simple dress code— e.g., boys were required to wear simple chino pants (no cargo, no jeans, and no holes) and collared shirts (no holes etc.), casual to dress shoes (no athletic shoes)—clothing costs decreased quite substantially and morning routines were greatly simplified. This eliminated a major source of peer pressure for more and more elaborate school clothes. Three to five outfits do the trick, depending on how often one wants to/can do laundry.
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Jeffrey L. Hoopes

Assistant Professor of Accounting and Management Information Systems, Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

I tried to think of every purpose these things might serve for people from across the political spectrum:

1. At allowing people to save money from not having to remit sales taxes

Effective. Residents of the state that have the holiday save the sales taxes they would have paid. Out of state residents that cross boarders to take advantage of the holiday save the sales taxes, but, if they come from a state with sales tax, are merely evading the use tax. One could make some sort of argument that vendors will just increase their prices in some equilibrium effect and capture all of the tax savings for themselves, but, given the brevity of these holidays, this seems unlikely to me.

Some states also structure these holidays in such a way that they could change what people buy (and similarly, merely when they buy), and, people may buy stuff that they would otherwise not buy, at different times than they would normally buy (with an indeterminate effect on their utility, depending on how rational you think the people are).

2. At increasing economic activity though spurring more purchasing both from residents, and non-residents.

I don’t know.

3. At getting the politicians who put these programs in place elected.

This arguably one of the bigger reasons these things are put in place. They are crowd pleasers, so, even if they lack economic justification, they may make people a little happier, and a little more willing to vote for politicians they know support these holidays.

4. At increasing economic growth by putting more money in people’s pockets to spend and invest.

I don’t know.

5.At starving the government of revenue and reducing the size of government.

Given how short they are, and the limited number of goods exempted, it seems unlikely to make much of a dent.

6. At reducing poverty.

Some people do end up saving some money on sales taxes, but, some states have other programs that just outright purchase some back-to-school goods for low income residents. In the face of these other programs, I don’t know how much of a different the sales tax holidays make.

Further, if residents are willing to illegally evade the use tax (which between 90-99.5% of folks are, depending on the state), one could order these goods online, and at least in some states, evade sales taxes. You are unlikely to get a box of crayons for $0.25, like you can at a back to school sale at a brick and mortar sale, but, for some back to school goods, the online purchase to evade the use tax is an option (albeit an illegal one).

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Nathan M. Fong

Assistant Professor of Marketing, Fox School of Business, Temple University

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

A sales tax holiday would seem to be great for consumers, but price-conscious shoppers have to be extra careful about identifying deals. It's possible that some retailers profit from the tax relief through higher prices: while they are unlikely to raise their regular prices, they might issue fewer discounts in the back-to-school season than they would have without the tax holiday. Thus, more price-sensitive consumers will still benefit by checking and comparing prices.

In online retailing research, it's been found that sales taxes can shift consumers' choice between online and offline channels. A sales tax holiday helps level the playing field for offline retailers. This might be starting to matter less, as major online retailers like Amazon are agreeing to collect sales taxes in more states (but will also take advantage of tax holidays in those states).

There's also research on the effect on aggregate demand. It's hard to make the case that short-term incentives stimulate additional demand, and there is a tendency for them to reallocate demand (both geographically and temporally). This happens when people cross borders to take advantage of the tax holiday, or when they make purchases that they would otherwise have made later.

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Matthew N. Murray

Professor of Economics, The University of Tennessee

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

There is some evidence of a boost to back-to-school sales during a sales tax holiday. So in this sense, it is a winner with the public. However, there is speculation and anecdotal evidence that retailers are less prone to offer discounts and deep discounts during the sales tax holiday. So consumers may end up paying a higher price for the things they buy over the course of a sales tax holiday. There has been no careful research that looks at the net effect of higher consumer prices and the absence of the sales tax. Hopefully this makes sense — it is an interesting twist on the perception that consumers are clear winners.
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John L. Mikesell

Chancellor's Professor, School of Public & Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

Tax holidays do not stimulate the local economy and they may not even save shoppers any money (they replace sales events otherwise offered by merchants).
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Richard Pomp

Alva P. Loiselle Professor of Law, University of Connecticut

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

Watch for sales tax holidays and either accelerate or delay your purchases to take advantage of the exemption.

Use one of the many available apps for your phone when you are in a store to comparison shop. Sometimes you can show the manager that the good is cheaper on the Internet or at a competitor and they will match the price.

How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility (e.g. stimulate him to take a summer job in order to be able to afford everything he wants when he goes back to school)?

Put the kids on a budget so they can start to understand the choices they have to make. Teach them the advantages of saving early and saving often by demonstrating the effects of compound interest.

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

Most of the studies show that it just costs a state money without really stimulating purchases that would not otherwise have been made. People will defer a purchase that they would have made earlier until the holiday; some will make a purchase earlier than they were planning so that they fall within the holiday. But note that in neither case did the consumer make a purchase that they otherwise would not have.

What are the most important characteristics of a top school?

It has to be a good fit for the needs of the student. Once you have selected those schools, and there should be a substantial number of “good fits,” then go for the highest ranked and most prestigious school possible.

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

Nothing can replace the 18 years of family values, training, and leading by example, etc.
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Mike McGonigle

Director of the Insurance and Financial Services Center, College of Business, New Mexico State University

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

Keep an eye out for the back to school sales. Many large retailers are hungry for your business and drop their prices to get it. Make sure to get to the stores early though as it isn’t uncommon for items to run out of stock.

For larger ticket items, like laptops and iPads, make sure to comparison shop to be certain you are getting the best value for your buck. The internet makes it easy to do this, especially for electronics, while avoiding pushy salespeople.

Some credit card issuers offer cash back bonuses to influence where you buy those back-to-school supplies at, which adds even more savings to your wallet. To find out about these deals and offers, simply log on to your credit card issuer’s website and look for the cash back or rewards section to see what stores are eligible. Make sure to pay your credit card off quickly to avoid interest charges and potentially higher overall costs.

Avoid the premium items where generic items are available. A pen is a pen, no matter how much you pay for it. And let’s be honest, are people really going to notice your fancy pen or pencil?

Buy only what you really need. Sometimes it is easy to get more than what you need when it is so inexpensive. The inexpensive items add up quickly and prevent you from using that money on other, more useful items.

For books, try shopping for them online. 90% of the time you can get a book cheaper online than at a brick and mortar book store. Some of the sites will allow you to rent the book for a fraction of the cost.

How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility (e.g. stimulate him to take a summer job in order to be able to afford everything he wants when he goes back to school)?

For parents that are eager to teach their kids about fiscal responsibility, I suggest giving their kids a budget and let the kids select and buy the supplies that they want. I wish my parents would’ve done this with me when I was younger as it forces kids to consider the true value of the dollar by balancing luxury with need. Hopefully your kids will be thinking, “Would I rather spend $6.00 on a designer notepad or $1.50 on a generic notepad that accomplishes the same thing? How much will I have left for other items? Do I really need a designer notepad?” To keep your kids on track with their needs, I recommend they follow the supply list that is typically provided by their school. By following the supply list, they can buy the things they really need and you can be sure they will be set for success for the school year.
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Donald Bruce

Douglas and Brenda Horne Professor of Business, Center for Business & Economic Research, University of Tennessee

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

Back-to-school shopping is dangerous, because everyone is excited and feels like they need to have the latest, newest items. Retailers also invest in aggressive marketing. The best advice is to step back and take a deep breath, and recognize that you have plenty of time to shop around, find the best deals, and get everything you need. Resist the temptation to buy everything all at once, and remember that retailers are in business to make money.

How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility (e.g. stimulate him to take a summer job in order to be able to afford everything he wants when he goes back to school)?

One great idea is to give older kids a clothing budget and stick to it. Tell them they are free to choose more expensive brand-name items, but that it will cost them in terms of not being able to buy as many things. They need to be put in positions where they can be rewarded for making careful choices. It’s a great way to give kids the power to make their own choices, but also to face the real consequences of making poor choices.

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

I’m generally pessimistic about tax-free weekends and similar schemes. Shoppers feel like they are getting a deal when they don’t have to pay the tax, but they don’t always realize that the prices might actually be higher during those tax-free weekends than they are just a week or two before or after. Discounts also tend to be smaller during tax-free weekends. It’s all about supply and demand, and the retailers know that demand will be very high during tax-free weekends so they can afford to charge higher prices. The academic research shows that retailers get at least as much of the benefit from tax-free weekends as shoppers do. Want to get a deal? Wait until after the back-to-school rush is over, when the items are listed for 25 or 50 percent off.

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

I think both are very important, and so much of that depends on the particular student. I think that good students with strong support systems from family or others can be successful in just about any school. I also think that great schools can help just about any student reach their potential regardless of the student’s background or family environment.
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Philip Trostel

Professor of Economics, University of Maine

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

From a public finance perspective, tax exemptions for most things (including school items) are bad public policy. Tax exemptions supposedly helping poor children (e.g., for food, books, etc.) actually benefit non-poor families considerably more and come with a high public cost. There are probably about $20 in tax benefits to non-poor families for every $1 of tax benefits to poor children. If we really want to help poor children with their education, we should take those $21 dollars and use them for programs that directly help them, and just them (give them books, school supplies, meals, high-quality schools).

What are the most important characteristics of a top school?

Peers, rightly or wrongly, are probably the single most important factor.

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

Both matter a lot, but in general, family more.
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Aaron M. Pallas

Professor of Sociology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

What are the most important characteristics of a top school?

Choosing a school for your child is an important responsibility, but it's an art, not a science. Two students from the same family can have different experiences in a given school. Look at the academic performance of students in the school: Are its graduates on the path to college and career? Do they meet the academic standards set by the school district and the state? But don't stop there. Take an inventory of your child's strengths and needs, and see if the school has the resources to enable your child to do his or her best. Tour the school before enrolling, and keep in touch with your child's teachers and the other staff of the school.

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

Students are most likely to be successful when their families and schools are both pulling in the same direction, with a common understanding about what each can do to support the student's learning and development. At home, this means a designated quiet place to read and study, and clear expectations about balancing homework with other pursuits. At school, students benefit most when the environment is safe and orderly, and the teachers are well-prepared to teach challenging lessons. Not all families have the resources to support their children in the way that they would like, but concrete expressions of the importance of school learning can go a long way.
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Jordan M. Barry

Associate Professor of Law, University of San Diego

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

Make a realistic budget and stick to it. If you get too aggressive in your budget-making, staying within your budget can become a goal that you don’t really think you can achieve, and that can make it easier to blow the budget in a big way or ignore it altogether. Starting with a less aggressive, more realistic budget can sometimes help you spend less overall.

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

Exempting back-to-school items from sales taxes can lower the cost of those items. However, depending on the size of sales taxes in a particular area and the degree of competition among businesses, an exemption may not have a very large effect on consumers’ bottom lines. It can also be hard to tailor the exemptions narrowly. For example, if you exempt pens and pencils sold in August from sales tax, that’s going to help everyone buying pens and pencils that month, not just back-to-school shoppers.

In addition, most tax experts agree that these kinds of exemptions are bad for the tax system. Each exemption means lost tax revenue that has to be made up somewhere else, in the form of more taxes or higher tax rates. Exemptions make the tax system more complicated. Exemptions also tend to breed more exemptions — once one exemption is granted, it becomes easier to argue that something else should get the same treatment.

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

Both are very important.
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Patricia Cain

Professor of Law, Santa Clara University

How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility (e.g. stimulate him to take a summer job in order to be able to afford everything he wants when he goes back to school)?

It would be helpful to work with them on budgeting. Set a budget, make a shopping list, and see if you can find all items at a number below budget – perhaps do a trial run using online sources and then compare prices to the ones in the stores.

How effective is exempting various back-to-school items from sales taxes?

Personally, I don’t like tax holidays – it reduces needed revenue and I worry that retailers will wait and put things on sale after the holiday – I’d rather have the merchant take the hit than reduce revenue to the state.
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Theodore M. David

Professor of Law and Taxation, Fairleigh Dickinson University

When it comes to a student’s success, which is more important: the family environment or the student’s school?

I think parents should realize early on that making their kids successful without teaching them the skills of happiness is a worthless endeavor. Most schools look at success in business in financial terms as the object of acquiring an education. While it is they (who) unfortunately neglect the happiness relationship, I recently delivered a lecture at The Henry David Thoreau Society (sic) in Concord, Massachusetts, on the topic of happiness. I believe there has been too little attention given to whether a person is happy in their lives.
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Kelly Rogers

Lecturer and Program Advisor, Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University

What tips can you offer parents for keeping their back-to-school budgets under control?

Supplies:

Take an inventory of your home. Look through everyone’s room, the office, the garage and the overstuffed kitchen drawer. Reuse what you can, as there is no need to buy something new when you have something that can be used again. When looking for general supplies, such as rulers, staplers, and scissors, look for quality, not just low price, so it will last and possibly reuse next year. Kids like to get things that have characters on them - steer away from these. What their favorite character is today most likely won’t be in 6-months.

Clothes:

As a family activity, clean out your kids’ closets and complete a clothes inventory before going school clothes shopping. Make two piles - one to reuse and one to donate. Lay out the reusable clothes on the floor. Try to make at least 10 outfits. See where the gaps are that will help determine what is needed. Don’t forget the jackets, umbrella, and one nice outfit for the year. The items that usually are a most re-buy are socks and underwear.

Saving More Money:

Check local ads in the newspaper, mail and favorite websites for deals. Consider buying online instead of going to the store. Many stores offer online only coupons with free shipping.

General Tips:

1. Beware of “Buy one, get the other ½ off” sales. These tend to break a budget and you limit your options.

2. Beware of store sales that just try to get you in the door but only have a few items on sale in hopes of getting you to purchase the regular priced items.

3. Don’t be tempted to buy too many clothes for each child. Stick to what you need.

4. Remember that children grow quickly so allow space for growth in their clothes purchases.

5. Think DURABLE not just CHEAP for backpacks, lunch boxes and shoes.

6. Teach your kids to take care of their belongings. This doesn’t mean telling them to do it. Take them through the steps of how to hang up their clothes, put the shoes away carefully, and set a good example.

7. To keep the life of the clothes longer try to have your kids change from their school clothes to play clothes when they get home.

8. Don’t wait too late because all the ‘sales’ items might sell out quickly.

How can parents effectively use back-to-school to teach their kids about financial responsibility (e.g. stimulate him to take a summer job in order to be able to afford everything he wants when he goes back to school)?

Before shopping remember that this is a good time to talk with your children about the school shopping expectations. Prepare them by making a budget together, set limits, and make a game out of finding the items. You can even let them keep the change from the savings they help during shopping.

Methodology

As back-to-school season arrives, WalletHub compared the school systems among the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. We used 12 key metrics, including student-teacher ratios, dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. By highlighting the best school systems, families relocating in the near future can use the available information to compare schools for their children.

The corresponding weights we used are shown below. The two categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings.

School System Rank

  • Presence of Public Schools from one State in Top 700 Best US Schools: 1
  • Remote Learning Opportunities from Online Public Schools: 1
  • Dropout Rates: 1
  • % of Children Who Repeated One or More Grades: 1
  • Bookworms Rank: 0.5
  • Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 1
  • Math Test Scores: 1
  • Reading Test Scores: 1

Education Output & Safety

  • Safest Schools (Percentage of Public School Students in Grades 9–12 who Reported being Threatened or Injured with a Weapon on School Property): 1
  • Bullying Incidents Rate: 1
  • Percentage of People (25+) with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: 0.5
  • Champlain University High School Financial Literacy Grade: 1

 
Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Education Association, the Kids Count - Anney E. Casey Foundation, the Center for Financial Literacy - Champlain College, Stopbullying.gov, U.S. News & World Report and K12.com.

Author
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Richie Bernardo is a financial writer at WalletHub. He graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a minor in business from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Previously, Richie was a journalism…
231 Wallet Points
Wow, since this is a financial site, shouldn't there be some sort of comparison of money spent to outcomes? Isn't that the real measure of performance and value in a school system? Are private schools included in the ranking?
Aug 19, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
I am NOT surprised that NJ ranks best on this list. As a former NJ educator I always reminded my students that NJ is the hardest state in which to be a student or a teacher-- the threshold standards are just that high. I graded the NJ state HSPA for two years and was able to compare NJ test responses to those of other states' standardized tests (CT's being closest to the caliber of NJ students', TX's being
the worst). Whilst at Delran HS I was part of the language-arts staff who got our students to surpass the HSPA scores of our neighboring rival, Cinnaminson (if only for one year). I have taken the Praxis exam(s) required by most Northeast states (NY and PA excluded, since they then required graduate degrees of 1st-time candidates) and found the NJ test to be most academically demanding. (As a public-university graduate I scored 100% on it.) The 'sour grapes' mentality of many other states' educators is understandable; but in my (educated) view, no matter how you rate it, NJ schools are going to come out at or near the top of all 51 districts. And I do not subscribe to any bad-mouthing of our current governor, who has just not been in office long enough to claim any responsibility for what is clearly a long-term and system-wide policy of high-caliber education. Christie's feuds with the NJEA are chiefly economic; he neither blames nor credits the union for the quality of the schools but just wishes they would charge NJ taxpayers less for them. In the union's overt focus on benefits and salaries, they cannot fairly claim credit for the schools' academic ranking which is primarily a factor of NJ's per-capita income (historically, 2nd in the US after CT), of widespread parental involvement, and of the commuting proximity of some of the best universities (and trade schools) in the nation. Where I have taught, some of the best students were found in the schools with the least-aggressive unions and vice versa. It comes down to how much the community, specifically the parents, care about children's education-- and how that caring manifests itself in attitudes towards funding, safety, teacher qualifications and curriculum. That can't be adequately measured quantitatively; the WalletHub study only attempts to illustrate the point.
Aug 17, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Skewed data: of course Utah is #1 in 'Lowest Percentage of Children Who Repeated One or More Grades.' Utah uses social advancement, and children do not repeat grades. Why did you not know this, you did not research. Skewed categories: I agree with Jen_Henry_16. Why did you not use "Per-Pupil Funding," and I agree with Jdkahler, 'How did you come up with Education Output and Safety Rank?" You have used too much subjective information in your article, with NO references
as to where you received your information. As a Journalism major you know better. You should be ashamed. Wallet Hub has been irresponsible in allowing you to publish this, this, editorial. Yes, it should be listed as an editorial, not an article.
Aug 16, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Texas is a green state?! How? I am encouraged by it, of course, but with all the regressive polices of the current government I would think they would not be fairing well. I am shocked to see that they're well above NY.
Aug 13, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
I guess no matter how hard Governor Christy tries he cannot denigrate the public school system in the State of New Jersey and he just can't face reality. He is so consumed with hate that he can't see the truth. New Jersey has always had one the best public school systems in the nation and it must cause him so much anguish. He is such an arrogant egomaniac and he wants to be president? He can't even do a good
job as Governor. New Jersey is a financial mess and he just doesn't have a clue on how to solve the problems. But, we can all take solace in the fact that our children have an excellent chance for success and our dedicated school teachers will keep up the great job that they are doing. Please don't judge the people who live in New Jersey because of the language and actions of our Governor.
Aug 10, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
I am surprised you did not use per pupil funding as a factor, since that is something that peiple in the ed field rely on. What is this list's correlation with per pupil funding? I would like to see that.
Aug 10, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Three questions:

- How did you come up with "Education Output & Safety Rank" - it really varies wildly from the "School System Quality Rank." It's interesting that you would break out these elements from the others, and it's really unclear how the elements in this group relate to each other - seem like two very different categories.
- How did you arrive at the weighting, and where exactly did each item you weighted come from (a list of sources is kinda not useful since there's no indication of what comes from where)? For instance, is the number/percentage of bachelor degrees among those in each state the number based on people who reside in the state, or the people who graduated from the state's schools? These can be very different numbers I would guess.

- What did the experts you quote have to do with the survey and results? From the responses, they're an add on to the page that might help folks who have kids in schools, but they seem to have no connection with your survey itself. Did they know that your questioning would land them on the same page as this survey/ranking? Assuming they didn't actually have anything to do with the survey, why not a separate article - or have them actually comment on the survey?

As another poster asks, where are the details behind this? Would be interesting to read the entire report, not just the executive summary, to see exactly what was done here and why this survey should be touted as useful. A table, some top and bottom illustrations, a map, and a graph, absent underlying data and information, don't really help determine what the study means, yet it's being using already by politicians and others.

Thanks.
Aug 9, 2014  •  Reply (1)  •  Flag
@jdkahler: Sorry, missed that you state "The two categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings." Which doesn't explain why they're broken out. Either they mean something, or they don't, and what "organizational" purpose do they serve? Details are the important missing piece.
Aug 9, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
This WalletHub report is another example of this country's growing quantitative illiteracy. Rankings may sound attractive, but they invariably cloud and distort the reader's perception what the rankings perport to explain. Rankings always result in a first/highest rank versus a last/lowest rank. Sure, it sounds nice to be "First" or "Highest", but the reader has no clue as to the qantitative difference between "First" and the dreaded "Last." The WalletHub report uses 7 indicators of school
performance: dropout rate, math test score, reading test score, percentage of children repeating a one or more grades, pupil to teacher ratio, school safety and bullying incident rate. These are practical measures of school performance, but it would make much more sense if the report indicated the scores of each state, from "First" to "Last" for each indicator. For example, if some indicator is based on an index from zero to 100 and "First" and "Last" are only separated by 10 points, then the ranking does not show a significant difference between any of the states. If the overall ranking shows New Jersey as "First" and the District of Columbia as "Last", that's interesting, but not terribly illuminating in assessing school performance. When the report compares indicators, that could be useful in showing the degree of association between school performance criteria, but it does so by comparing RANKINGS. That's still confusing the issue. Sadly, websites and reporters love these dumb ranking stories because they appeal to the "winner" versus "loser" mentality
Aug 7, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Heck yes, my state is the best! lol. NJ spends a lot and seems to know what they're doing! The classroom layouts are really something to be admired. I found this classroom buying guide for furniture for those interested! It'd written by OSI Outlet, who also sells used office furniture in Washington DC.
Aug 6, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Thanks for posting Richie!

Two questions:
1) What does the Educational Output number mean, and

2) Is there a written report on the findings?

Thanks!
Aug 5, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag