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With states ranked by education quality, students standing at the crossroads of life have more geographical diversity and more quality options when choosing a college or university. However, for years, published rankings have been the go-to source of information for the best colleges and universities. The publication of reports from U.S. News and World Report, QS World University Ranking, and Times Higher Education World University Ranking are always highly anticipated. Subsequently, based on these college rankings, the concentration of top universities and colleges fall within the states of California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

While these rankings are helpful, options become limited. For families and students trying to make informed decisions, the availability of more options offering quality education is essential.

First, Let’s Define What Quality Education Means

Education is more than a content delivery system. To believe otherwise is outdated, if not insufficient. With attempts to define quality education away from the pedagogical point of view, educators from around the world have reached a consensus. The concluding agreement defined quality education as a system designed to help the youth reach their full potentials and enter society as full and productive citizens. Supported by quality teachers and quality tools and learning conducted within choice environments—quality education aspires to prepare every child not just for testing but also, most notably, for life. Thus, with more states offering quality education, the aim to prepare the youth for the future can be realized.

a photo of a classroom full of students listening to a teacher in front talk about the topic of states ranked by education quality
Education is more than a content delivery system

In Detail: States Ranked by Education Quality

By focusing on measures that spell successful educational outcomes, Bold Business would like to highlight the states with systems and policies in place to ensure that quality education is available for all. We collected available public data about the education system of each state, information from the best colleges and universities rankings, and the universities’ websites.

From these data, we created a list based on the states with the highest number of 4-year and 2-year higher education institutions within the state. We also investigated graduation rates for both 4-year and 2-year higher education courses. For a U.S. state to be included in the Top States Ranked by Education Quality, the population’s percentage with an advanced degree must be high. Lastly, the average dollar amount of debt at graduation should be low.

The Bold Business List of Top 20 States Ranked by Education Quality

Our gathered data points painted a whole new picture. The states of California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are still included in the list. However, a few previously low-ranking states climbed up the list, thus creating a more geographically diverse line up of options.

California is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
North Carolina is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Washington is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Florida is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Colorado is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
New York is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Maryland is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Minnesota is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Illinois is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Pennsylvania is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Virginia is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
New Jersey is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Arizona is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Texas is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Massachusetts is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Tennessee is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Ohio is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Michigan is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Vermont is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality
Connecticut is part of Bold Business' list of states ranked by education quality

What Went Wrong with Popular Colleges and Universities Rankings

Top 20 States Ranked by Education Quality Infographic

The U.S. News and World Report, QS World University Ranking, and Times Higher Education World University Ranking are some of the most popular systems that rank the best colleges in the country. Families trying to decide which best colleges and universities to pursue refer to these rankings for guidance. While these rankings offer a good starting point in trimming down choices, they have unfortunately become instruments for the commodification of education. Each of these established rankings follows different methods, unregulated approaches and matrices in determining which best colleges in the country makes it to their list.

  • For instance, the U.S. News and World Report ranking uses an extensive set of criteria which include graduation and retention rate, class size, faculty ratio, peer-to-peer assessment, and results of standardized test, to name a few.
  • The Times Higher Education Ranking, on the one hand, chooses to give equal weight to Learning Environment, Research Efforts, and Research Citation and Influence.
  • Lastly, QS Ranking gives Academic reputation and Employer Reputation the most significant weight at 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Furthermore, QS Ranking also looks at the university’s international research network, faculty and student ratio, and teaching staff and student diversity.

It’s Time for A Bold Change

Without doubt, the best colleges and universities rankings have been adeptly positioned as the authority in the space. And stakeholders in the academic field are not underestimating the undeniable influence of these rankings. While these rankings have established influence in the field of higher education, they are veritably part of a mostly unregulated system. With the society’s overreliance on these rankings, isn’t it time for a paradigm shift?

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