The 10 Worst States for Getting an Education

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Grade school education in the United States has some well documented problems. Of 21 industrialized countries, the U.S.'s 12th graders rank 19th in math, 16th in science and last in advanced physics.

The gulf between what is expected by college-level faculty and high school teachers is indicated by the fact that 44% of college faculty say that incoming freshman aren't ready for college level writing, while 90% of high school teachers say graduating seniors are well prepared.

The gulf between the reading and math proficiency standards of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the states' own standards are quite wide in some cases, leading to matriculating students who aren't necessarily ready for the next level.

In the U.S., an average of only 55.5% of college students graduate within six years, while just 69% of students earn their high school diploma.

Despite these grim numbers, a report released by the America's Promise Alliance said the country is on the right track, estimating that by 2020 the high schools in the country will be able to achieve a 90% graduation rate.

The American Legislative Exchange Council recently published the 18th edition of its state education rankings the Report Card on American Education

The Report Card "is a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels, focusing on performance and gains for low-income students" and ranks states based on several criteria including state academic standards, private school choice programs, charter schools, teacher quality and online learning opportunities.

Just because a state has a low overall education grade doesn't necessarily mean that their education policy is not on the right track. Oklahoma is ranked as the 9th worst state on this list, but its overall education grade of "B+" indicates that its policy is on the right track, according to the ALEC.

Here is a list of the 10 states ranked last in the report.

10. Nebraska



Education Policy Grade: 
D
Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: D-
Per Pupil Expenditure: $10,825 (ranked 20th)

In Nebraska, 91.87% of 8th graders in 2010 were proficient in math according to the state test. According to NAEP standards, only 34.6% of students were proficient, leaving a standards gap of 57.23%. Nebraska ranks 25th in country with 55.1% of college students graduating with a bachelor's degree within six years. Of the students who graduate high school and go on to college, 77.8% of Nebraska's college freshman go on to their sophomore year, ranking the state 20th in the country for college retention rates.


9. Oklahoma



Education Policy Grade: B+

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: B-
Per Pupil Expenditure: $9,075 (ranked 43rd)

In Oklahoma, 61% of 8th graders are proficient in math according to state standards, however that number is 37.18% off of the NAEP's proficiency standards. Oklahoma ranks 42nd in the nation with 44.1% of college students graduating with a bachelor's degree within six years. Only 69.1% of Oklahoma college freshman continue through to their sophomore years, meaning that the state ranks 45th in the country when it comes to retention rates.


8. Tennessee 



Education Policy Grade: C

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: B-
Per Pupil Expenditure: $8,242 (ranked 46th)

In 2010, 90.1% of Tennessee's 8th grade students were proficient in math, according to the state's own standards test. The NAEP's standards test placed that number at 25.2%, a standards gap of 64.92%, the largest gap in the country. Tennessee ranks 31st in the nation with 51.5% of college students graduating with a bachelor's degree within six years. The state's college freshman retention rate of 72.9% ranks 36th in the country.


7. Arkansas



Education Policy Grade: C

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: C
Per Pupil Expenditure: 9,353 (ranked 33rd)

In Arkansas, 61% of 8th graders were proficient in math in 2010, according to the state standards test. NAEP's test put that number at 27%, a difference in standards of 34%. Arkansas ranks 46th in the nation with 41.2% of college students graduating with a bachelor's degree withing six years. The state's 69.9% retention rate ranks 44th in the country.


6. Michigan



Education Policy Grade: B-

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: B+
Per Pupil Expenditure: $10,833 (ranked 28th)

In Michigan, 74.5% of 8th graders were proficient in math according to the state's own measures. The NAEP's test put that number at 30.5%, a difference in standards evaluation of 44%. Michigan ranks 26th in the Nation with 54.8% of college students graduating within six years. Its 79.8% retention rate ranks 12th in the nation.


5. Missouri



Education Policy Grade: C

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: D
Per Pupil Expenditure: $9,410 (ranked 31st)

Missouri seems to have one of the more stringent standards policy's in the country with only 47% of 8th graders being rated as proficient in math. The NAEP's measure put the number at 35.5% representing one of the lowest gaps in standards measurement of 11.5%. Missouri ranks 23rd in the nation with a 55.8% of students graduating with a college degree within six years. The state's college freshman retention rate of 73.9% ranks 29th in the country.


4. Mississippi



Education Policy Grade: C-

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: D+
Per Pupil Expenditure: $9,542 (ranked 38th)

According to the state, 53.9% of Mississippi 8th graders are proficient in math. According to the NAEP, only 15.2% of students are proficient. Mississippi ranks 33rd in the nation with 51.5% of college students earning a bachelor's degree in six years. The states freshman retention rate of 75.9% ranks it 24th in the country.


3. Louisiana



Education Policy Grade: B

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: C-
Per Pupil Expenditure: $12,454 (ranked 19th)

In Louisiana, 59% of 8th graders are considered proficient at math, according to the state test. The NAEP test puts Louisiana's proficiency rate at 20.3%, a difference of 38.7%. Louisiana ranks 47th in the nation with 40.7% of college students earning their bachelor's within six years. Its 72.9% college freshman retention rate ranks 35th in the country.


2. South Carolina



Education Policy Grade: C

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: C-
Per Pupil Expenditure: $9,877 (ranked 35th)

South Carolina has an 8th grade math proficiency rate of 62.7%, according to state standards, while the NAEP puts that rate at 30.2%. South Carolina ranks 19th in the country with 57.6% of students earning their bachelor's degree within six years. The gamecock state's 73.9% freshman retention rate ranks 28th in the country.


1. West Virginia



Education Policy Grade: D+

Teacher Quality and Policies Grade: D+
Per Pupil Expenditure: $14,147 (ranked 11th)

West Virginia's 8th grade math proficiency rate is 51.23%, according to the state test. The NAEP test rates that 19.4% of 8th grade students are proficient in math. West Virginia ranks 43rd in the country with 43.8% of college students getting a bachelor's degree within six years. West Virginia's 68.3% retention rate ranks 48th in the country. 

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