The Most Educated States in the US and How the Education System Can Improve
Education is the passport to a better future. But even advanced countries like the US struggle at providing the highest quality education. Several factors decide whether a state is educated or not. These include educational facilities, higher education opportunities, job availability, and a combination of several other factors. WalletHub recently conducted a survey comparing the 50 states to find which were the most and least educated in the US. They considered the quality of education and educational attainment of people over the age of 24 and the results show that Massachusetts ranks first in terms of educational attainment while Mississippi sits on the last spot.
Factors influencing educated states
For many people, it’s strange to think that a developed nation such as the US has states that perform poorly in terms of the number of diploma holders. It’s easy to imagine a popular state like New York or Washington being the most educated in the country. Here’s the truth that you need to know. According to the 2017 census data, Massachusetts is the most educated state according to the quality of education and educational attainment. But the bigger question here is what keeps the educated states ahead of the others?
- State’s spending on education
One of the most significant factors causing the divide between educated and non-educated is the amount of money spent by the states on student education. Educational attainment rate among adults was higher in the most educated states as they spent more per student and their various educational facilities. A report also showed that over 30% of adults in the top spending states went on to get a bachelor’s degree from the same state.
- Higher education facilities
The educational attainment rank is dependent on the education facilities of the state. The equation is pretty simple – states with lower rank have a below-average facility for higher education. That results in students migrating to the better-ranked states and ultimately settling down in that state after getting a job. This also lowers the average income or the economic contribution of the lower-ranked state.
Improving the education system
But it’s clear that changes need to be made if the US wants to rank higher on the global scale. It’s worth looking at what Finland does, for instance, as they currently rank first in providing the best education system in the world. Following are some ideas that can change the education system in the US for good:
- Cooperation instead of competition
There is a mad rush among students to score higher than their peers. The fear of failure is something that gets to the mind of the students, and they ultimately don’t get the grades they expect. The different schools in the US should abolish the method of ranking students in the classroom. There should not be any list of the best students as it creates additional pressure to study harder instead of fostering a more collaborative and holistic environment.
Homework is another area of concern. High school and colleges have marking schemes based on homework completion. While students have the option to use homework help service, dealing with piles of homework creates added pressure, especially for students who need to participate in sports or take on a part-time job. In contrast, Finnish students spend the least amount of time on homework. This is because their schools focus on giving quality assignments instead of handing them out just for the sake of giving students something to do.
- No standardized tests
Some of the schools in the US have already started to abolish standardized tests. The idea is to track the overall progress and intelligence of the students through different activity-based studies that are more relevant to the day to day job that students may have to do in the future. Standardized tests enforce students to learn just for the sake of passing their exams.
According to psychologists, forced learning is never the solution to improving the education system. If children are interested in sports, music or art, they should be given the freedom to hone their skills in those areas. Of course, some basic education is always necessary, but that should not be the only parameter that decides whether the student is educated or not.
- Focusing on basic needs instead of grades
Some of the states in the US have taken steps toward focusing on the essential priorities of children instead of making them compete with each other to score higher marks. The basic needs of people are food, clothing, and shelter. If people are satisfied with these three things, they will automatically be enthusiastic to educate themselves and get a good job once they graduate. States that have prioritized free meals in school, psychological counseling of students, healthcare facilities, and individual guidance have managed to rank higher in terms of educational attainment.
- Professional degree instead of college degree
As mentioned earlier, the education system in the US is all about what you have studied and how well you have passed the tests in school. It seems like getting a college degree is the only ticket to success. But what about the students who didn’t do well? What if they are a great plumber in disguise or a master in fixing electric cables and switches or are just good at planting trees?
These can easily become their profession, and they may not have to do anything with the complicated math problems or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The focus here is on getting a professional degree and certification so that people can get a job and earn their living. The government should provide ample opportunities for everyone, even those who do not fall under the ideal student stereotype.
The purpose of education is to develop outstanding citizens that will contribute to the overall growth of society. But students are often forced to get a college degree to prove that they are educated. This needs to change. Yes, education is definitely important. But it is not the only parameter that should judge whether a state is educated or not. The overall performance of the state in terms of job opportunities and earning capabilities are two critical factors that must be considered instead of educational scores alone.