RANKED: The strength of the public education system in every US state, from worst to best

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesMassachusetts was at the top of the pile, while
  • Massachusetts has the best public education system out of all US states, according to an annual ranking.
  • The US News and World Report rankings looked at how well states are educating their students in preschool, K-12 and higher education.
  • It examines performance in areas like preschool enrollment, maths and reading scores, college readiness, graduation rates, tuition and fees, and debt at graduation.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories

Massachusetts was ranked as having the best public education system out of all US states, according to an annual ranking.

The US News and World Report rankings looked at how well states are educating their students in preschool, K-12 and higher education after examining areas like preschool enrollment, maths and reading scores, college readiness, graduation rates, tuition and fees, and debt at graduation.

While Massachusetts topped the list, Alabama and New Mexico ranked the lowest.

The rankings come as part of US News and World Report’s “Best States” ranking for 2019, which looks at the quality of health care, education, and infrastructure in every state, as well as their economies and quality of life.

Here are the states ranked in order of the quality of their public education systems:


50. Alabama

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Alabama was ranked 49th for pre-k to 12th grade and 47th for higher education.


49. New Mexico

turtix/Shutterstock

New Mexico was ranked 50th for pre-k to 12th grade and 29th for higher education.


48. Louisiana

Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana was ranked 46th for pre-k to 12th grade and 49th for higher education.


47. Alaska

Andrea Tombolato/Shutterstock

Alaska was ranked 47th for pre-k to 12th grade and 36th for higher education.


46. Mississippi

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Mississippi was ranked 45th for pre-k to 12th grade and 33rd for higher education.


45. Nevada

Judith Lienert/ShutterstockValley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Nevada was ranked 48th for pre-k to 12th grade and 18th for higher education.


44. West Virginia

Jerry Pennington/ShutterstockWest Virginia State Capitol Building.

West Virginia was ranked 42nd for pre-k to 12th grade and 45th for higher education.


43. South Carolina

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South Carolina was ranked 41st for pre-k to 12th grade and 46th for higher education.


42. Arkansas

Arkansas was ranked 40th for pre-k to 12th grade and 40th for higher education.


41. Rhode Island

Getty/DenisTangneyJr

Rhode Island was ranked 36th for pre-k to 12th grade and 48th for higher education.


40. Arizona

Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock

Arizona was ranked 44th for pre-k to 12th grade and 24th for higher education.


39. Oklahoma

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Oklahoma was ranked 43rd for pre-k to 12th grade and 28th for higher education.


38. Kentucky

Kentucky was ranked 32nd for pre-k to 12th grade and 43rd for higher education.


37. Michigan

Michigan was ranked 29th for pre-k to 12th grade and 42nd for higher education.


36. Oregon

Erin Crum/ShutterstockCrater Lake National Park in Oregon.

Delaware was ranked 39th for pre-k to 12th grade and 22nd for higher education.


35. Tennessee

Tennessee was ranked 38th for pre-k to 12th grade and 23rd for higher education.


34. Texas

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas was ranked 33rd for pre-k to 12th grade and 32nd for higher education.


33. Idaho

Charles Knowles/Shutterstock

Idaho was ranked 26th for pre-k to 12th grade and 35th for higher education.


32. Pennsylvania

Getty/Alex Potemkin

Pennsylvania was ranked 10th for pre-k to 12th grade and 50th for higher education.


31. Ohio

Ohio was ranked 18th for pre-k to 12th grade and 38th for higher education.


30. Georgia

Georgia was ranked 31st for pre-k to 12th grade and 25th for higher education.


29. Hawaii

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Hawaii was ranked 30th for pre-k to 12th grade and 21st for higher education.


28. Maine

Getty/Alan Copson

Maine was ranked sixth for pre-k to 17th grade and 34th for higher education.


27. Missouri

Missouri was ranked 21st for pre-k to 12th grade and 26th for higher education.


26. Montana

Zack Frank/Shutterstock

Montana was ranked 20th for pre-k to 12th grade and 19th for higher education.


25. North Carolina

Jon Bilous/ShutterstockThe lake at Marshall Park in Charlotte.

North Carolina was ranked 28th for pre-k to 12th grade and 12th for higher education.


24. Indiana

Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Indiana was ranked 6th for pre-k to 12th grade and 39th for higher education.


23. Delaware

Delaware was ranked 24th for pre-k to 12th grade and 16th for higher education.


22. New York

New York was ranked 25th for pre-k to 12th grade and 15th for higher education.


21. California

canadastock/Shutterstock

California was ranked 37th for pre-k to 12th grade and 4th for higher education.


20. North Dakota

North Dakota was ranked 35th for pre-k to 12th grade and 5th for higher education.


19. Illinois

Tanupong Wittayanukullak/Shutterstock

Illinois was ranked 7th for pre-k to 12th grade and 31st for higher education.


18. South Dakota

Scott Olson/Getty Images

South Dakota was ranked 23rd for pre-k to 12th grade and 10th for higher education.


17. Minnesota

Nic Lehoux

Minnesota was ranked 12th for pre-k to 12th grade and 20th for higher education.


16. Wyoming

Wyoming was ranked 34th for pre-k to 12th grade and 3rd for higher education.


15. Kansas

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Kansas was ranked 15th for pre-k to 12th grade and 13th for higher education.


14. Wisconsin

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Wisconsin was ranked 16th for pre-k to 12th grade and 11th for higher education.


13. Maryland

KhanIM/ShutterstockFall foliage in Columbia.

Maryland was ranked 11th for pre-k to 12th grade and 17th for higher education.


12. Connecticut

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Connecticut was ranked 5th for pre-k to 12th grade and 44th for higher education.


11. Colorado

randy andy/ShutterstockPearl Street Mall is located in downtown Boulder.

Colorado was ranked 14th for pre-k to 12th grade and 9th for higher education.


10. Utah

Arlene Treiber Waller/Shutterstock

Utah was ranked 22nd for pre-k to 12th grade and 6th for higher education.


9. Iowa

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Iowa was ranked 13th for pre-k to 12th grade and 8th for higher education.


8. Vermont

Getty/DenisTagneyJr.

Vermont was ranked 4th for pre-k to 12th grade and 41st for higher education.


7. Virginia

Flickr Doug FrancisRichmond, Virginia, Capitol

Virginia was ranked 8th for pre-k to 12th grade and 14th for higher education.


6. Nebraska

Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

Nebraska was ranked 9th for pre-k to 12th grade and 7th for higher education.


5. New Hampshire

Jo Ann Snover

New Hampshire was ranked 3rd for pre-k to 12th grade and 37th for higher education.


4. Washington

emperorcosar/ShutterstockA view of downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier in the background.

Washington was ranked 19th for pre-k to 12th grade and 2nd for higher education.


3. Florida

Florida was ranked 27th for pre-k to 12th grade and 1st for higher education.


2. New Jersey

Walter Hickey / BI

New Jersey was ranked 2nd for pre-k to 12th grade and 30th for higher education.


1. Massachusetts

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Massachusetts was ranked 1st for pre-k to 12th grade and 29th for higher education.

87.5% of children in the state graduate from high school, well above the national average, while National Assessment of Educational Progress maths test scores are 5% higher than the national average.

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