Graph depicting Math Proficiency and College Degrees
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Sources: Annie E. Casey Foundation   NEA   Census

Data: Excel

Last updated: March 21, 2015


States With Strong Math Programs Have Many College Graduates

Description: Each dot represents a state. The horizontal axis shows the percentage of the over-25 population of that state who have a bachelor's degree or more. The vertical axis shows the percentage of eighth graders in that state who are proficient in math. The blue dots are states that voted for President Obama in 2012 and the red dots are states that voted for Mitt Romney.

Related blog post: How Blue States Are Outperforming Red States

Discussion: The most striking thing about this data is how tightly 8th grade math proficiency correlates to college graduates in a state. On average, 23% more of the residents have college degrees in states with the best 8th grade math proficiency rates than in the states with the worst math proficiency rates.

Most likely, the relationship goes both ways- students probably do better in math because they have college educated parents that have the income and knowledge to give them the best odds of doing well in math and students who do well in math are more likely to go on to get college degrees themselves. Ultimately, states that value education highly are likely to do better on both scores.

Another striking aspect of the data is the strong tendency for blue states to have both higher math scores and more college degrees. The best state overall is Massachusetts (in the very top right corner) with 55% of its 8th graders passing the math test and 38% of its population over 25 holding a college degree. The best Republican state is Kansas with 38% of its 8th graders passing the math test and 30% of its population holding a college degree. The worst state for college degrees is West Virginia (at 17%) and the worst state for 8th grade math is Alabama (at 20%).

See more graphs about: Education  

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