Massachusetts was ranked the most educated state in the country, beating out Maryland and Connecticut for the top spot.
The report was conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website, and evaluated several categories, including overall educational attainment and quality of education, both of which Massachusetts ranked first in. The state notably has the highest proportion of residents with bachelor’s, graduate and professional degrees in the country.
The high rate of educational attainment among Massachusetts residents is caused in part by the presence of the technology, medicine and higher education sectors. These high-profile industries attract migrants to the state, said Tricia Kress, graduate program director of the Urban Education, Leadership and Policy Studies doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“Because of the particular context of Massachusetts, you wind up having an influx of migrants to the state, whether they’re domestic migrants [or] international … for a particular industry,” Kress said.
Alex Jelicich, 27, of Fenway, said a college degree is probably necessary to be hired in Massachusetts due to the prevalence of higher education institutions.
“There’s a lot of different undergrads around here, a lot of different schools, so I imagine that the area has a lot of well-educated people,” Jelicich said. “I’d imagine that because there’s so many people who are highly educated, it’s competitive if you don’t have a degree.”
Because Massachusetts values education as a policy priority, Kress said its K–12 educational programs foster high college and career readiness among its young people. She said initiatives such as dual enrollment programs and informational workshops encourage students to pursue professional and higher education degrees.
Kelsey Cole, 24, of Brighton, said the abundance of universities and colleges in Boston breeds a culture of high educational attainment.
“Just here in Boston, there are so many very good universities,” Cole said. “The sheer number [of] people probably motivates a lot of kids in high school and younger ages to value education.”
Despite Massachusetts’ promising rankings, Kress said these measures fail to recognize the gaps that exists for minority students. For example, she said while the average graduation rate for all students is 87 percent, the graduation rate for English language learners is between 50 and 60 percent.
“The high numbers tend to obscure what’s really happening for particular subgroups of students,” Kress said. “There are still gaps in terms of how students are achieving in schools based on socioeconomic background, between students of different ethnic and racial background … students who are English language learners [and] students who have special needs,” Kress said.
In order to truly have the best quality education in the country, Massachusetts must invest in programs that consider the specific needs of all types of learners, Kress said.
“There are also lots of innovative programs that are being developed for these particular [vulnerable] populations that I would recommend the state continue to invest in so we can say that not only is Massachusetts number one in the nation for education, but that we support all learners equally towards success,” Kress said.
Annissa Essaibi George, a Boston city councilor at-large, said despite the number of colleges and universities in Massachusetts, higher education is largely inaccessible to Boston’s own students.
“There are a number of different programs that support our kids, but it is still very expensive to go to college,” Essaibi George said. “We have, as a city, a really good program with community colleges in creating an opportunity for kids to go for free. But when we talk about traditional four-year programs within the city limits, they are often still difficult for our own students to access.”
To empower Boston’s youth to consider college, Essaibi George said college admissions representatives and students should spend more time empowering students in the city’s K–12 classrooms.
“College students should be in our classrooms, directly working with, mentoring, tutoring, supporting our kids,” Essaibi George said. “Our kids can [then] see their future in that college student so they can realize and witness and hopefully see themselves as future college students.”
Leah Hoover, 58, of Roslindale, said while higher education is prevalent in Boston, she feels everyone should have greater access to their services.
“I also see the underserved not being educated to the same level that everyone deserves,” Hoover said. “I don’t like the system where not everyone receives the same levels and same benefits.”
Solange Hackshaw and Daniela Rivera contributed to the reporting of this article.