newswhat is the impact of a state on education virginia is 7th most educated in the us

What is the impact of a state on education? Virginia is seventh most educated in the U.S.

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Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows a correlation between higher education, higher income and lower unemployment rates across the United States.

WalletHub released its report on 2023’s Most & Least Educated States in America.

The personal finance website compared all 50 states across 18 metrics to determine which states have the most well-educated populations.

Data includes educational attainment, school quality and achievement gaps between genders and races.

Massachusetts is the most educated state, followed by Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont and Colorado. New Jersey is no. 6 and Virginia is no. 7.

Virginia is 27th among states in percentage of high school graduates, 8th in percentage of adults with associate’s or college experience, and 7th in percentage of college graduates. Virginia is 4th in percentage of graduate or professional degree holders. The Commonwealth is first in gender gap in educational attainment.

The least educated states are West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama.

Experts offered WalletHub opinion about the impact of K-12 school quality on rates of high school graduation and college graduation.

“School quality does not have a simple definition because good educational outcomes like good grades or scores on standardized achievement tests can be attributed to student effort, family support and peer effects, as well as high-quality teachers and schools,” Dr. Michael F. Addonizio, a professor at Wayne State University, said. “That said, we have much U.S. evidence that students who do better in school, through either grades or test scores, tend to go farther in school. Research by Harvard economist Richard Murnane and colleagues suggests that one-third to one-half of the economic benefits of higher student achievement come from more schooling. That is, school quality improvements that raise student performance keep students in school longer, which leads to higher graduation rates at all levels of schooling.”

Dr. Ahlam Lee, an associate professor at Xavier University, said a correlation may exist between K-12 school quality and K-12 short-term and long-term outcomes for students.

“The evidence does not necessarily mean K-12 school quality causes such outcomes, but rather K-12 school quality linked with multiple factors (e.g., parents’ involvement in their children’s learning process, community-level socioeconomic status, and a nation’s political and economic system, etc.) contributes to individuals’ K-12 short-term and long-term outcomes. Importantly, children themselves’ own efforts toward their goals are critical to bringing about their successful learning outcomes. Considering a multilevel structure of environments surrounding individuals as well as individual differences in learning processes, we could not attribute a single indicator such as K-12 school quality to one’s learning outcomes,” Lee said.

Jennie E. Brand, a professor, Director of the California Center for Population Research and Co-Director of the Center for Social Statistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, said state investment in higher education “is an extremely short-sighted strategy. We need greater investment in higher education — such as building more colleges and making them more affordable — to meet student demand for education and meet employer demand for more educated and skilled workers. This is part of a broader economic development strategy to enrich states. But it is also part of a broader social policy. As we know that education is associated with far-ranging benefits, such as better health and more social and political participation, and less reliance on social assistance, we benefit collectivity from a more educated population.”

Addonizio said that education remains the state’s largest and most important investment.

“Decades of research have identified links between economic prosperity and education, and investments in education, particularly higher education, are now recognized as an effective economic development tool. State investment in education is an effective long-run strategy not only for a state’s economy and residents but for its public finances and budget as well. Even though education spending at all levels typically constitutes over half of a state’s total budget, these investments pay off handsomely in the long run…the majority of students graduating from state schools will remain in the state over their work careers. Their advanced skills and training will increase their earnings and their tax payments as well as lower their reliance on public assistance programs,” Addonizio said.

Addonizio said research suggests reductions in public funding of higher education will make states less competitive in the long run.

“A study by Federal Reserve economists examined factors contributing to greater state prosperity over 65 years and found that a state’s high school and college attainment rates were key determinants of per capita income growth relative to other states between 1939 and 2004. (Bauer, Schweitzer, and Shane 2006)…Unfortunately, state policymakers have often failed to take the long view on educational investment, particularly at the postsecondary level. From 1990-91 to 2009-10, real funding per student at public colleges and universities declined 26 percent, and the share of state personal income allocated to higher education fell 30 percent, while tuition at four-year institutions more than doubled and rose 71 percent at community colleges, according to a 2012 study cited by the Economic Policy Institute. During a time when a changing economy demanded new skills and states needed to improve access to higher education, they did just the opposite. An older generation would call that being ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish,’” Addonizio said.

Clifton Conrad, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Gerald Dryer, PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, agreed.

“Indisputably: Yes. Such reductions will reduce the ‘talent pool’ of the population and the capabilities of many of those college graduates who enter the workplace in the state,” Conrad and Dryer said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.