Washington Ranks No. 7 in U.S. News report on Best States for Education; No. 5 for Higher Ed, No. 16 for Pre-K – 12

A new study from U.S. News and World Report gives Washington high marks for the quality of education. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports,

Washington is one of the best states for education in the U.S., a McKinsey & Co. index suggests.

The global management consulting firm and U.S. News & World Report ranked states based on K-12 and higher education. Washington ranked No. 7 overall, No. 5 in higher education and No. 16 in pre-K through K-12.

Washington received lower marks for tuition and fees (No. 24), preschool enrollment (No. 35) and high school graduation rate (No. 38).

As PSBJ staff writer Ashley Stewart reports,

The quality of schools is a competitiveness issue for Washington’s business community. Good schools can help recruit and retain employees and prepare kids to enter the workforce.

Ranks are based on metrics. And the metrics matter. Here’s how U.S. News arrived at its conclusions.

The measures included percentages of adults with associate’s degrees or higher, the rates of students completing public four-year and two-year college programs within 150 percent of the normal time, the average tuition and fees for in-state students at public institutions and the average debt load of graduates from public and private, colleges alike. The states also were ranked on percentages of children enrolled in preschool and on 10 basic criteria for the quality of preschools, including teacher training, class size and teacher-to-student ratios. They were compared in national testing of eighth-graders in math and reading, in rates of graduation from high school and readiness for college.

More detail on the rankings for higher education here and pre-K -12 here.

Our Opportunity Scorecard Achieve (education) ranking for Washington shows the state ranking No. 21. We use different measures. Interestingly, both our Scorecard and the U.S. News ranking show Massachusetts as the No. 1 state.

In other education news, we were interested in this Seattle Times report on a new study of income inequality and academic gaps.

Income inequality in the U.S., for example, has been on the rise: Since 1980, incomes have stagnated for the bottom 50 percent of American adults. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent, who in 1980 earned 27 times more than the bottom 50, now earn 81 times more.

But despite that growing economic inequality, reading and math performance gaps between low-income students and their more well-off peers haven’t grown, according to a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute.

The report from the left-leaning EPI confirms a persistent concern, about which we’ve written often. We’ve cited the 2017 OSPI release of state test scores showing academic performance gaps by race, ethnicity, poverty and mobility. The income gap is also a dimension cited in this Education Week report we noted in 2016.

Although EPI asserts that income inequality is “one of the United States’ most pressing economic and societal issues,” we and others contend the primary challenge for the U.S. is promoting upward mobility for those at the lower rungs of the income ladder. Education and a growing economy are critical to that effort