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Most educated county in every state

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Most educated county in every state

The American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Dewey advocated for an educational paradigm called pragmatism, which stresses the importance of learning academic concepts by experiencing them firsthand, instead of through lecture and repetition in a classroom. While this is still a philosophy used by many educators, especially those working in fields where the value of work experience exceeds the value placed on an academic background, many people take a great deal of pride in their formal educational credentials, not only because of the many valuable skills these educations have provided them with, but also because of the immense amount of work that went into earning their particular degrees.

To look at areas in each state that have achieved the highest levels of educational attainment, Stacker used data from the 2014–2018 American Community Survey to construct a weighted index that measures the relative education level for every county in the United States. This index evaluates each county's over-25 population across seven educational tiers, ranging from individuals not educated past 8th grade to those with graduate or professional degrees. For each segment of these tiers; a points-based indexing system was applied in direct proportion to the estimated years of schooling for each level of educational attainment. Lastly, the full range of index scores was normalized to a 0 to 100 scale, with 100 representing the most educated county in the United States.

The county in each state with the highest weighted index is included. Read on to see where people in each state go to school the longest on average, and about various factors, ranging from flagship state schools to specific teaching methods to robust tax bases that may have influenced the county’s high academic achievements, and kept its students in school so long.

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Rivers Langley; SaveRivers // Wikipedia

Alabama: Shelby County

- Education index score: 87.43
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.4%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 20.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 22.3%
--- Associate's degree: 7.4%
--- Bachelor's degree: 27.9%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 14.2%
- Rank among all counties: #156 out of 3,142

Shelby County outperforms the rest of Alabama educationally, with several interesting corollary demographic differences of note. The county’s median household income is $69,379, compared to $43,160 for the rest of the state, and the poverty rate is only 7.7%, compared to 18.1% for the rest of the state. The relationship between income and educational attainment and outcome has been well documented, which may in part explain Shelby County’s high educational marks relative to the rest of the state.

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Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

Alaska: Denali Borough

- Education index score: 88.71
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 0.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 1.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 22.2%
--- Associate's degree: 6.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 28.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 14.7%
- Rank among all counties: #93 out of 3,142

The Denali Borough School county has a long track record of investing in its students’ education, including keeping up with innovative technology. Back in 2003, the county became the first in Alaska to provide every student in ninth through 12th grade with a laptop computer, setting them up early in the internet age for a lifelong fluency with computers that has proved prescient in the years since.

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hakkun // Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Coconino County

- Education index score: 85.57
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 4.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 6.2%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.4%
--- Some college, no degree: 23.6%
--- Associate's degree: 9.0%
--- Bachelor's degree: 21.1%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 14.5%
- Rank among all counties: #295 out of 3,142

Coconino County has invested heavily in education for all of its residents. In the past decade, the county has invested in pre-kindergarten preparatory programs, increased access to digital technology in rural areas, and created a transition school for students recently released from juvenile detention.

[Pictured: View from Lowell Observatory 2 at Northern Arizona University in Coconino County, Arizona.]

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Ualrcomm // Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Pulaski County

- Education index score: 85.08
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 6.2%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 23.4%
--- Associate's degree: 6.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 20.9%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 13.2%
- Rank among all counties: #354 out of 3,142

Pulaski County schools have come a long way in recent years. As recently as 2013, the county’s schools were under state control due to a severe shortage of funds. In 2016, the county regained control back from the state, and its schools are now outperforming those in the rest of the state at the elementary and high school levels, which is particularly noteworthy given the fact that the county students deemed to be at higher risk for suboptimal education levels than the rest of the state. The county attributes this in part to its focus on growth versus raw test results, measuring how much students improve themselves year to year, rather than how they stack up against others.

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Mr. Granger // Wikimedia Commons

California: Marin County

- Education index score: 92.50
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.9%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.9%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 10.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 17%
--- Associate's degree: 6.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 33.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 25.6%
- Rank among all counties: #16 out of 3,142

One of the most notable achievements of Marin County’s education policy in recent years has been the development of a public-private partnership between the county and local organizations. In 2019, the Marin County Board of Supervisors offered $100,000 in matching funds raised by the Marin Promise Partnership to provide equal educational opportunity and access across the board in the county, closing the achievement gap between the county’s least fiscally advantaged students and the wealthiest.

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Bildungsroman // Wikimedia Commons

Colorado: Boulder County

- Education index score: 93.68
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 12.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 15.8%
--- Associate's degree: 6.2%
--- Bachelor's degree: 33.1%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 27.7%
- Rank among all counties: #6 out of 3,142

Boulder County schools have the benefit of a robust private network of supporters. The county’s Education Impact nonprofit supports a wide array of programs and projects every year to improve equity, promote innovation, and support excellence. Initiatives range from supply drives to business leadership programs.

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Stagophile // Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut: Fairfield County

- Education index score: 88.31
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 5.3%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.7%
--- Some college, no degree: 14.7%
--- Associate's degree: 6.2%
--- Bachelor's degree: 26.4%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20.9%
- Rank among all counties: #111 out of 3,142

Fairfield County may have high educational outcomes, but such success hasn’t always been under the letter of the law. As recently as 2014, the county was found to have violated a state law requiring schools in each county to be at least as diverse as the county itself. Fairfield was one of four counties found not to have complied with this requirement.

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Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

Delaware: New Castle County

- Education index score: 85.62
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.6%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 30.6%
--- Some college, no degree: 18%
--- Associate's degree: 7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 20.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 15.1%
- Rank among all counties: #290 out of 3,142

New Castle County may count as the most educated county in the state, but some students in the county still struggle to achieve these high educational marks. The state legislature has been weighing a recountying proposal since 2015 to better serve high-risk students in the state by shifting money to higher-risk schools. The proposal failed in 2016 and has been suggested again in 2019.

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Porkn305 // Wikimedia Commons

Florida: Leon County

- Education index score: 89.28
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.2%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 19.2%
--- Associate's degree: 9.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 19.9%
- Rank among all counties: #77 out of 3,142

It’s hard for students to learn and teachers to teach when concerned about their safety, and after the school shootings in Parkland, Florida. in 2018, Leon County sprung into action to help students and teachers feel safe so they could focus on learning. A state-of-the-art security system allows safety and security officers to monitor schools and buses at all times and even has an app with a panic button for teachers to push if the need should ever tragically arise.

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ZachJBeavers // Wikimedia Commons

Georgia: Oconee County

- Education index score: 91.25
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.6%
--- Some college, no degree: 15.8%
--- Associate's degree: 7.9%
--- Bachelor's degree: 24.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 26.9%
- Rank among all counties: #33 out of 3,142

Oconee County invests heavily in its education and education policy. The county’s budget for 2020 includes a pay raise for all of its employees, investments in safety and security, and additional staff to support students in key areas, including special education and technology.

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Ingus Kruklitis // Shutterstock

Hawaii: Honolulu County

- Education index score: 85.26
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 4.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.2%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 20.5%
--- Associate's degree: 10.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 22.5%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 11.8%
- Rank among all counties: #329 out of 3,142

Honolulu County is the nexus of Hawaii’s educational system. The county is home to tens of thousands of graduate and undergraduate students studying everything from marine sciences to tropical agriculture to Asian and Pacific cultures, which the county’s lush location promotes. The county is also the base for the state’s public library system, with over 75% of its holdings concentrated in Honolulu, making education a natural priority for the county’s residents.

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Max7 // Wikimedia Commons

Idaho: Latah County

- Education index score: 89.60
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 23.1%
--- Associate's degree: 8.2%
--- Bachelor's degree: 26.3%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 18.8%
- Rank among all counties: #70 out of 3,142

Latah County is home to the University of Idaho, setting the county’s tone as an educational base in Idaho. And the county’s education stats fare well not just compared to the rest of the state of Idaho, but compared to the country with more residents of the county graduating from high school and earning advanced degrees than in the country as a whole, perhaps due in part to the trickle-down influence of a flagship state university in the midst of the county.

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Raymond Cunningham // Flickr

Illinois: Champaign County

- Education index score: 89.56
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.5%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.7%
--- Some college, no degree: 20.7%
--- Associate's degree: 8.3%
--- Bachelor's degree: 21.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 22.6%
- Rank among all counties: #71 out of 3,142

Not only is Champaign County home to the flagship University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus, the county has also put recent measures in place to promote equity in educational outcomes among its residents. The county offers a “controlled choice” model of school enrollment, in which each school has an even balance of lower-income students, while still offering most families places in one of their top three choice schools.

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Derek Jensen // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Hamilton County

- Education index score: 92.45
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.6%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 15.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 16.8%
--- Associate's degree: 6.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 36.6%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 21.2%
- Rank among all counties: #17 out of 3,142

Hamilton County schools are going to extreme lengths to ensure educational excellence for each of their students. The school county has worked with law enforcement to put policies in place mandating that the families of students who habitually miss school may be eligible for criminal charges and prosecution.

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Vkulikov // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Johnson County

- Education index score: 91.70
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.6%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 16.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 17.6%
--- Associate's degree: 8.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 28%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 25%
- Rank among all counties: #25 out of 3,142

Johnson County schools may take home high marks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t committed to improving. The county commissioned a 2019 survey of its students asking about all areas of their experiences at the county’s schools. The survey found that minority students have an overall less positive experience in school—a finding officials have said they are committed to addressing.

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Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

Kansas: Johnson County

- Education index score: 91.97
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.5%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 14.4%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.6%
--- Associate's degree: 7.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 34.3%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 21%
- Rank among all counties: #23 out of 3,142

A 2019 audit of state payrolls found that top-performing Johnson County had some of the highest-paid teachers and other educational operatives in the state. The county topped state payrolls, with 11 teachers making over $100,000 a year, and three superintendents making over $300,000. The county, clearly, is willing to invest in education.

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky: Oldham County

- Education index score: 88.30
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 22.9%
--- Associate's degree: 7.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.0%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 17.2%
- Rank among all counties: #112 out of 3,142

Each school in Oldham County has taken the unusual step of committing to hitting a high benchmark, year after year. The county’s schools have each pledged to maintain the highest possible accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, creating an atmosphere in which no school will wish to break the perfect record of the county.

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Dylan Dewenter // Wikipedia

Louisiana: Lincoln Parish

- Education index score: 85.22
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 27.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.9%
--- Associate's degree: 5.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 21.5%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 15.0%
- Rank among all counties: #336 out of 3,142

Lincoln Parish has maintained excellent educational standards while also complying with a logistically complicated mandate from the Department of Justice. The county was found in 2015 to have multiple schools in violation of desegregation orders, meaning that the classrooms were not racially diverse enough, or at all. The county not only committed to desegregation in response, it also amended its “Advanced Learning Academy” program to include elevation of all students, rather than tracking a few it believed showed exceptional promise.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Cumberland County

- Education index score: 89.28
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.2%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 22.3%
--- Some college, no degree: 17%
--- Associate's degree: 9%
--- Bachelor's degree: 28.9%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 17.8%
- Rank among all counties: #77 out of 3,142

One factor that may contribute to Cumberland County’s high educational achievement is the county’s tax base. Cumberland County has a high local tax base and high property tax values, which gives the county more money to put toward education than many other counties in Maine.

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Pixabay

Maryland: Howard County

- Education index score: 94.09
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 14.0%
--- Some college, no degree: 14.5%
--- Associate's degree: 5.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 30.3%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 31.1%
- Rank among all counties: #4 out of 3,142

Howard County is committed to using its high educational achievement levels for the good of the county. A controversial proposal put forth in 2019 has suggested redistributing students to different schools in the county to result in more socioeconomically diverse schools. Although the plan has vocal opponents, that it has been proposed at all shows the premium the county places on education and expanding opportunity for all.

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Thermos // Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts: Middlesex County

- Education index score: 91.62
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.4%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.6%
--- Some college, no degree: 12.5%
--- Associate's degree: 5.9%
--- Bachelor's degree: 27.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 28.0%
- Rank among all counties: #26 out of 3,142

Middlesex County is yet another county in which high income levels correspond to strong educational outcomes. The median income for the county is almost double the national average, and the poverty rate half, which translates to a larger tax base for the county.

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Jha4ceb at wts wikivoyage // Wikimedia Commons

Michigan: Washtenaw County

- Education index score: 92.71
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 14.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.0%
--- Associate's degree: 7.1%
--- Bachelor's degree: 26.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 29.0%
- Rank among all counties: #12 out of 3,142

Voters in Washtenaw County are willing to spend on education. In 2019, voters approved a $53 million measure to build a new special-education facility, showing commitment to access for all the county’s students.

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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: Carver County

- Education index score: 89.97
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.6%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.0%
--- Some college, no degree: 17.7%
--- Associate's degree: 11.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 33%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 15.1%
- Rank among all counties: #60 out of 3,142

Carver County schools offer a sobering reminder that high levels of academic achievement do not always translate into positive educational experiences for all students. A 2019 lawsuit alleges that the county failed for years to do anything to prevent systemic racist bullying in schools throughout the county. The county has formed a council to study and address the matter, and will be issuing further findings and recommendations.

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CapCase // Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi: Madison County

- Education index score: 89.27
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 16.6%
--- Some college, no degree: 19%
--- Associate's degree: 8.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 27.7%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 19.9%
- Rank among all counties: #79 out of 3,142

Madison County attributes some of its positive outcomes to being “good stewards of our dollars,” in the words of the county’s superintendent. This stewardship has allowed the county to take in more students and build new facilities to educate them all in a state-of-the-art environment.

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Me5000 // Wikimedia Commons

Missouri: Boone County

- Education index score: 89.24
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 19.7%
--- Associate's degree: 7.2%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20.2%
- Rank among all counties: #81 out of 3,142

Boone County is known for low student-teacher ratios and overall academic excellence. The county is growing rapidly, and the superintendent is asking for a tax hike to continue funding the level of quality the county expects. The money would be used to fund new construction and pay new teacher salaries.

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Tim Evanson // Wikimedia Commons

Montana: Gallatin County

- Education index score: 90.25
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.2%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 18.8%
--- Some college, no degree: 22.5%
--- Associate's degree: 6.4%
--- Bachelor's degree: 31.7%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 17.4%
- Rank among all counties: #55 out of 3,142

Many Gallatin County schools have a reputation for taking a more holistic approach to discipline and truancy than other schools in the state. A statewide report criticized the use of policing and suspending students for disciplinary infractions, pointing to lost days of instruction and lagging educational outcomes, and validating the choice of Gallatin schools like those in Bozeman in taking a gentler approach.

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: Sarpy County

- Education index score: 87.93
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 24.2%
--- Associate's degree: 9.9%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 14.3%
- Rank among all counties: #128 out of 3,142

Sarpy County places a premium on investing in education. The county gives a budget for county employees to invest in education—their own or their family’s—including tuition credits at Bellevue University.

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Douglas County

- Education index score: 85.00
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.9%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 24.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 29.2%
--- Associate's degree: 11.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 17.9%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 11.0%
- Rank among all counties: #366 out of 3,142

Besides having high educational outcomes across the board, Douglas County schools have the distinction of 2019’s highest increase in graduation rates in the state. The county points to its philosophy of encouraging strong relationships between teachers and students with keeping the students in school all the way through the finish line.

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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: Rockingham County

- Education index score: 87.92
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 25.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.7%
--- Associate's degree: 10.3%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.5%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 15.3%
- Rank among all counties: #129 out of 3,142

Rockingham County has an educational mission that extends beyond school-aged children. The county has a robust program for older education seekers to learn writing, reading, and math, along with preparation for high school equivalency programs.

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Tomwsulcer // Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey: Somerset County

- Education index score: 91.48
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 20.0%
--- Some college, no degree: 14.1%
--- Associate's degree: 6.1%
--- Bachelor's degree: 29.6%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 24.9%
- Rank among all counties: #32 out of 3,142

Quality educators are part of high-quality educational results, and Somerset County led the pack on that count in 2019, with one of its teachers named the state’s Teacher of the Year.

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AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico: Los Alamos County

- Education index score: 97.09
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 0.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 1.6%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 9.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 13.1%
--- Associate's degree: 8.4%
--- Bachelor's degree: 27.3%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 39.2%
- Rank among all counties: #3 out of 3,142

Los Alamos has spent years trying to make its schools the best in the state. The county’s initiatives have included a Saturday School to give extra academic help, and School of Choice, which gives students with different learning needs the opportunity to attend schools that specifically align with those needs.

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sach1tb // Wikimedia Commons

New York: Tompkins County

- Education index score: 92.06
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.6%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.4%
--- Some college, no degree: 12.5%
--- Associate's degree: 9.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 22.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 29.9%
- Rank among all counties: #21 out of 3,142

Tompkins County includes Ithaca, where prestigious Cornell University and Ithaca College dominate the higher-education landscape. These values filter down into the area’s schools at various levels, where the county has recently competed for and won grants from the state for a variety of projects, including a community educational garden for grade schoolers.

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Ildar Sagdejev // Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina: Orange County

- Education index score: 92.77
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.6%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 14.8%
--- Some college, no degree: 13.7%
--- Associate's degree: 6.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 24.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 32.7%
- Rank among all counties: #11 out of 3,142

Orange County schools are putting their high educational outcomes to work to improve equal access to quality education for all. The county’s 2019 educational agenda included a recountying plan, which would create more socioeconomic diversity in the county’s schools, along with financing new capital projects for various schools in the county.

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Ndstate // Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota: Cass County

- Education index score: 87.51
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.5%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.7%
--- Some college, no degree: 20.8%
--- Associate's degree: 14.6%
--- Bachelor's degree: 28%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 11.4%
- Rank among all counties: #151 out of 3,142

Cass County has an extremely unusual and ambitious model of education. The county eschews the traditional grade levels, and instead practices what it calls “personalized learning,” allowing each student to learn and progress at their own pace.

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Delaware County

- Education index score: 91.54
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 0.8%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.5%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 18.8%
--- Some college, no degree: 17%
--- Associate's degree: 6.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 34.4%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20%
- Rank among all counties: #29 out of 3,142

Often when students are suspended from school, they are not productive with their time, and simply face penalties from missed classes, exams, and homework. But students in Delaware County have the option of a Suspension Alternative Program, which allows them to do something more productive. The county also has an alternative schooling model that centers around caring for horses for students struggling in the traditional educational model.

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Keith8404 // Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma: Payne County

- Education index score: 86.07
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 21.7%
--- Associate's degree: 6.3%
--- Bachelor's degree: 20.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 16%
- Rank among all counties: #242 out of 3,142

According to many in Payne County itself, the area’s educational facilities are thriving despite the odds. Budget cuts in the state have cut teachers from school payrolls and led to textbooks falling apart. A strict sense of discipline is credited with helping the schools stay together, including the likes of “a wooden paddle” in the principal’s office.

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Gregkeene // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Benton County

- Education index score: 91.98
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.8%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 13.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 20.1%
--- Associate's degree: 7.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 29.0%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 24.6%
- Rank among all counties: #22 out of 3,142

Benton County is so committed to academic excellence, that despite its schools being ranked as among the best in the state, it has stated it is still looking for ways to improve. The school lasered in on recent findings showing that there was still room to close the educational gap, and to help students become better writers, and it would be focusing its efforts on these areas.

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D. // Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania: Chester County

- Education index score: 90.08
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.4%
--- Some college, no degree: 13.8%
--- Associate's degree: 6.2%
--- Bachelor's degree: 30.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 21%
- Rank among all counties: #59 out of 3,142

Chester County may have high educational outcomes, but residents pay for them. The county has had a significant number of tax hikes in recent years, including a 19% increase in one county over just five years. This translates into more funding more schools, which can pay more teachers and buy more equipment, which may lead to improved outcomes.

[Pictured: Twin Bridges Rural Historic District, Chester County, Pennsylvania.]

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UpstateNYer // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: Newport County

- Education index score: 89.35
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.0%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.7%
--- Some college, no degree: 16.6%
--- Associate's degree: 7.4%
--- Bachelor's degree: 28.6%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 19.3%
- Rank among all counties: #75 out of 3,142

Newport County schools have made a commitment to providing area students with an array of educational opportunities. These include technological instruction on iPads and other devices, an Edible Schoolyard Project, and offerings in robotics and computer science. The county believes that this will encourage students to be excited about school and invest themselves fully in what it offers.

[Pictured: The Breakers, the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, in Newport, Rhode Island, which is a part of the Preservation Society of Newport County.]

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Dfscgt21 // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina: Beaufort County

- Education index score: 87.44
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.2%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.9%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 22.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 20.8%
--- Associate's degree: 8.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 23.6%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 16.7%
- Rank among all counties: #155 out of 3,142

Beaufort County may be highly educated, but that hasn’t stopped the county and its tax dollars from spending some of its educational capital unwisely. In 2018, the school board hired a “marriage counselor” for $22,000 to work on their interpersonal issues, which included a dead rat left on a doorstep, and a name-calling session including “a stupid piece of doo doo.”

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Jack Boucher // Wikimedia Commons

South Dakota: Clay County

- Education index score: 90.33
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 21.7%
--- Some college, no degree: 19.7%
--- Associate's degree: 6.0%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.0%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 23.4%
- Rank among all counties: #53 out of 3,142

Clay County’s high educational outcomes have come at the tail end of decades of struggles. The county encompassed many rural schools that did not have the resources from the state or their own tax dollars to stay open and were closed or merged into other counties. Since then, the county has been on a more streamlined path to educational success.

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Omorefranklin // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Williamson County

- Education index score: 92.62
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.8%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.6%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 13.5%
--- Some college, no degree: 16.4%
--- Associate's degree: 6.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 37.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 21.8%
- Rank among all counties: #14 out of 3,142

Williamson County includes Nashville, which is home to some top schools in the state of Tennessee, and the prestigious Vanderbilt University. The county’s relatively deep pockets have allowed it to use financial means to solve problems that might otherwise prove vexing, including filling a substitute-teacher shortage by paying an extra $100 to substitute teachers working a certain number of days each pay period.

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EMBaero // Wikipedia

Texas: Collin County

- Education index score: 90.37
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 3.4%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 14.8%
--- Some college, no degree: 19.7%
--- Associate's degree: 7.5%
--- Bachelor's degree: 33%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 18.7%
- Rank among all counties: #51 out of 3,142

Collin County’s overall health is strong, and educational health is just one facet of that strength. The county has very low rates of obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, unemployment, and violent crime, which may translate into families able and willing to bring their children to school and enforce them doing their homework.

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Ken Lund // Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Summit County

- Education index score: 91.50
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.6%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.6%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 15%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.6%
--- Associate's degree: 5.9%
--- Bachelor's degree: 33.9%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 21.4%
- Rank among all counties: #31 out of 3,142

Summit’s significant tax base has allowed it to put resources into its schools. The county is now also playing a part of what state policymakers are calling “equalization,” in which they will tax their own tax dollars and give them to less wealthy schools to promote equal educational opportunity for all in the state.

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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Chittenden County

- Education index score: 90.40
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.8%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 19.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 15.9%
--- Associate's degree: 8.3%
--- Bachelor's degree: 29.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20.9%
- Rank among all counties: #49 out of 3,142

Chittenden County is home to some of Vermont’s most affluent areas. This means the county is the recipient of more tax dollars, and therefore has more money to pay its teachers—a study found that many of the state’s highest paid teachers are clustered in Chittenden County, often translating into teachers with more experience and qualifications.

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Southerngs

Virginia: Falls Church city

- Education index score: 100.00
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 0.2%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 1%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 5.5%
--- Some college, no degree: 11%
--- Associate's degree: 3.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 35.3%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 43.2%
- Rank among all counties: #1 out of 3,142

Falls Church City is both small and affluent. The county serves approximately 2,700 students, and draws from a significant tax base to provide quality services to this small number of students.

[Pictured: The Falls Church, Falls Church, Virginia, for which the independent city is named.]

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Yassie // Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Whitman County

- Education index score: 91.13
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 3.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 16.1%
--- Some college, no degree: 19.8%
--- Associate's degree: 9.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 25.5%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 24%
- Rank among all counties: #36 out of 3,142

Even though Whitman County has high educational outcomes, the county’s educationally inclined parents and advocates are looking for ways to expand the county’s educational offerings. The county’s city of Pullman will open its first charter school in 2021, focused on the Montessori method, and offering county residents even more options for academic excellence.

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Tom Long // Flickr

West Virginia: Monongalia County

- Education index score: 87.51
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.8%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.9%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 28.8%
--- Some college, no degree: 16.5%
--- Associate's degree: 5.7%
--- Bachelor's degree: 21.2%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20.1%
- Rank among all counties: #152 out of 3,142

Education-focused Monongalia County is expanding its educational activities beyond the traditional parameters, and partnering up with usual allies to do so. The local public university, West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, has partnered with the local health department to create a program offering real-world public health experience to students and offering the department of health data in the form of willing human subjects—students. Such partnerships may deepen the integration of education into daily life in the county, promoting a virtuous cycle of education.

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Czar // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Dane County

- Education index score: 90.83
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 1.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.7%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 17.9%
--- Some college, no degree: 17.2%
--- Associate's degree: 9.8%
--- Bachelor's degree: 30.4%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 20.3%
- Rank among all counties: #43 out of 3,142

Dane County is the home of the prestigious flagship state University of Wisconsin-Madison. The university is home to a whopping 32,000 undergraduates alone, and offers yearly tuition of a little over $10,000 for in-state students, which may draw the educationally minded to Dane County, increasing its level of educational attainment.

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Jon Sullivan/PD Photo // Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming: Teton County

- Education index score: 91.72
- Highest level of education attained by county residents:
--- Less than high school: 2.7%
--- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 2.9%
--- High school graduate or equivalent: 13.2%
--- Some college, no degree: 18.8%
--- Associate's degree: 5.1%
--- Bachelor's degree: 37.8%
--- Graduate or professional degree: 19.6%
- Rank among all counties: #24 out of 3,142

Teton County’s approach to education extends to focus on the entire child. Students are taught the importance of kindness and empathy in lectures specifically designed to address cases of bullying and social isolation and intended to foster the culture of kindness and compassion necessary for children to focus on learning and achieve their educational goals.

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