Massachusetts is No. 1 for pre-K through 12th grade education, according to new ranking
When it comes to education, give Massachusetts an A+.
Massachusetts also was ranked the eighth best state overall in the survey (Washington earned the top spot), which took education, health care, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime, and environment into consideration.
And that’s not all: Massachusetts scored second in health care access, fourth in crime and corrections (which is based on public safety and the quality and fairness of prison systems), and seventh in economy (the median household income is $77,385, according to the ranking).
“States that perform better in the Best States for Health Care category generally have low smoking rates, low obesity rates and higher percentages of residents with health care,” US News officials wrote in a statement.
Interestingly, Massachusetts — which is home to powerhouse colleges such as MIT, Harvard, Tufts, BC, BU, Brandeis, Wellesley, Northeastern, Williams, Amherst, and more — scored only 27th in higher education.
“While Massachusetts is No. 1 for educational attainment with more than half of its residents holding an associate’s degree or higher, it is No. 43 for debt at graduation ($32,065 vs. national average of $28,650) and #45 for in-state tuition and fees ($12,331 vs. national average of $8,804),” wrote Deidre McPhillips, senior data editor at US News & World Report, in an e-mail to the Globe.
And the top spot for higher ed? It went not to California or Virginia or Michigan, as one might expect, but instead to Florida.
“In some ways, Florida is the inverse of Massachusetts in the higher education sub-category: No. 8 and No. 2 for debt at graduation and in-state tuition/fees, but No. 27 for educational attainment,” McPhillips wrote. “Florida also does well in graduation rates for 2-year and 4-year colleges, giving it a top 10 place in 4 out of the 5 metrics in that sub-category.”
The pre-K through 12th grade education ranking measures enrollment in pre-kindergarten, standardized test scores, and the public high school graduation rate, while the higher education marks track educational attainment, graduation rates, college debt, and tuition costs.
Half of the top 10 states for higher education are “among the 10 cheapest states in terms of debt at graduation,” a statement from US News said, noting that those students “graduate with an average of $25,000 in debt . . . and pay an in-state tuition of about $7,000.”
Education seems to play a major part in choosing the best place to live: Seven of the 10 states with the best education systems also rank among US News’s top 10 best overall states.
That’s not to say Massachusetts doesn’t have things to work on, according to the rankings: The state scored 44th in infrastructure, 30th in fiscal stability, and 29th in opportunity, which took living and housing affordability into account.
Other New England states also scored high. New Hampshire came in second for best state overall and nabbed the top spot in the opportunity category. Vermont also came in fifth overall — scoring second in the nation for crime, seventh in environment, and eighth in education. Connecticut came in 21st overall, Rhode Island was 26th, and Maine scored 32nd.
This is the third year US News has been ranking best states: “It shows which state policies are working and which can be improved, and encourages citizens to interact more with their governments to promote positive change,” officials wrote in a statement.
The rankings are based on publicly available data from government sites such as the Census Bureau, the Department of Energy, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.