Adult educational attainment

Massachusetts residents are among the country’s best educated, but not everyone is prepared for a knowledge-driven world. Bay State adults rank fourth in college education, with 31 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. But for those holding a high school diploma, the state falls to 18th, with nearly 15 percent of adults lacking that credential. Massachusetts also needs work in basic skills, tying for 17th in a national literacy survey. Some 16 percent of adults were at best able to locate one piece of information in a simple text and total a bank deposit (Level 1); another 24 percent could find two bits of information and determine the price difference between two tickets (Level 2). But none of these 40 percent could write a brief letter explaining an error on a credit card bill (Level 3, considered a basic level of competency for today’s economy).

 

Population, 25 years old and older, with a college education, 1998
Rank State % with Bachelor’s or Higher
1. Colorado 34.0
2. Maryland 31.8
3. Connecticut 31.4
4. Massachusetts 31.0
4. Minnesota 31.0
6. Virginia 30.3
7. New Jersey 30.1
8. Kansas 28.5
9. Washington 28.1
10. Rhode Island 27.8
11. Oregon 27.7
12. Utah 27.6
13. Vermont 27.1
14. New York 26.8
15. New Hampshire 26.6
16. California 26.4
17. Illinois 25.8
18. Delaware 25.1
19. Alaska 24.2
20. Hawaii 24.0
21. Montana 23.9
22. North Carolina 23.3
23. Texas 23.3
24. New Mexico 23.1
25. North Dakota 22.5
25. Florida 22.5
27. Missouri 22.4
28. Wisconsin 22.3
29. Michigan 22.1
29. Pennsylvania 22.1
31. Arizona 21.9
32. South Dakota 21.8
33. Ohio 21.5
34. South Carolina 21.3
35. Nebraska 20.9
36. Georgia 20.7
37. Nevada 20.6
37. Alabama 20.6
39. Oklahoma 20.5
40. Iowa 20.3
40. Idaho 20.3
42. Kentucky 20.1
43. Wyoming 19.8
44. Louisiana 19.5
44. Mississippi 19.5
46. Maine 19.2
47. Indiana 17.7
48. Tennessee 16.9
49. West Virginia 16.3
50. Arkansas 16.2
US average 23.8
Population 25 years old and older, with high school degree, 1998
Rank State % with HS Diploma or Higher
1. Washington 92.0
2. Alaska 90.6
3. Wyoming 90.0
4. Colorado 89.6
5. Minnesota 89.4
6. Utah 89.3
7. Kansas 89.2
8. Montana 89.1
9. Nevada 89.1
10. Wisconsin 88.0
11. Nebraska 87.7
11. Iowa 87.7
13. Vermont 86.7
13. Maine 86.7
15. New Jersey 86.5
16. South Dakota 86.3
17. Ohio 86.2
18. Massachusetts 85.6
19. Oregon 85.5
20. Michigan 85.4
21. Delaware 85.2
22. Maryland 84.7
23. Hawaii 84.6
23. Oklahoma 84.6
25. North Dakota 84.3
26. Illinois 84.2
27. Pennsylvania 84.1
28. New Hampshire 84.0
29. Connecticut 83.7
30. Indiana 83.5
31. Missouri 82.9
32. Idaho 82.7
33. Virginia 82.6
34. Florida 81.9
34. Arizona 81.9
36. New York 81.5
37. North Carolina 81.4
38. Rhode Island 80.7
39. California 80.1
40. Georgia 80.0
41. New Mexico 79.6
42. Alabama 78.8
43. South Carolina 78.6
43. Louisiana 78.6
45. Texas 78.3
46. Kentucky 77.9
47. Mississippi 77.3
48. Tennessee 76.9
49. Arkansas 76.8
50. West Virginia 76.4
US average 84.0

 

Estimates of the Adult Population at National Adult Literacy Survey Level 1 and Level 2, 1998
Rank State % of State Population at NALS Level 1 or 2
1. Colorado 32
2. Alaska 33
2. Utah 33
4. Wyoming 34
5. Minnesota 35
5. Washington 35
7. Nebraska 36
7. New Hampshire 36
9. Vermont 37
10. Idaho 38
10. Iowa 38
10. Oregon 38
13. Kansas 3 9
13. Montana 39
13. North Dakota 39
13. Wisconsin 39
17. Massachusetts 40
17. Hawaii 40
17. Nevada 40
20. Connecticut 41
20. South Dakota 41
22. Arizona 42
22. Maine 42
24. Indiana 43
25. Delaware 44
25. Illinois 44
25. Michigan 44
28. Maryland 45
28. Ohio 45
30. California 46
30. Missouri 46
30. New Mexico 46
33. Oklahoma 47
33. Rhode Island 47
33. Virginia 47
36. New Jersey 48
36. Pennsylvania 48
38. New York 50
39. Florida 51
39. Texas 51
41. North Carolina 52
42. Tennessee 53
43. Georgia 54
43. Kentucky 54
45. Arkansas 56
45. South Carolina 56
45. West Virginia 56
48. Alabama 57
49. Louisiana 61
50. Mississippi 64
US average 44
Sources: Digest of Education Statistics, 1999; National Institute for Literacy, 1998