For families with school-age children, few things are as important as ensuring that their children are receiving the best education possible. The residents of some of America's best-educated cities can rest easy knowing that their children won't be left behind in the race for good grades and competitive college entry spots. The leaders of these cities have made education a major priority, allowing parents to affix honor student bumper stickers to their cars with pride.
Although the true value of a city's schools is somewhat subjective, there are some objective measurements that our proprietary filter can use to highlight the cities with the best educational systems. Graduation rates and student-teacher ratios are just some of the statistics we looked at to compile this list of the top cities for education in 2015. In selecting the cities, we chose to focus on larger cities with at least 200,000 residents.
- 1. Madison, WI
Our list begins with Madison, the capital of Wisconsin and the leader in the state when it comes to education. Madison excels with a low student-teacher ratio of 11-to-1, giving students the chance to receive personalized attention from their teachers. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has a student-teacher ratio of 14-to-1. Madison's workforce consists of highly educated workers; almost 93% of adults have finished high school. The city's higher-learning achievement is impressive as well, with more than 50% of adults having earned a bachelor's degree, far beyond the rate in both Wisconsin and the United States. The city is home to many notable universities, including the University of Wisconsinï¿½"Madison. Learn more about Madison, WI education.
- 2. Scottsdale, AZ
Although Scottsdale, Arizona, has a higher student-teacher ratio than Arizona and the United States, its education record shines in other categories. Just over 95% of the population has finished the eighth grade, and nearly that same percentage has completed high school. Scottsdale's high school graduation rate is 13 percentage points above both the rate for Arizona and the country. The schools in Scottsdale include 59 public schools, 26 private schools and 12 post-secondary schools. Learn more about Scottsdale, AZ education.
- 3. Irvine, CA
Irvine, California, is a city noted for its diverse collection of institutions of higher learning. The impressive roster includes the University of California, Irvine, Concordia University and Irvine Valley College. Nearly 90% of the city's residents have completed some college education, and 72% have completed at least an associate degree. Students in the city's public and private primary and secondary schools do have to endure a higher ratio of students to teachers than students in other California cities, making it more challenging for students to get individual attention. However, the city has a strong graduation rate for high school at 95.9%. Learn more about Irvine, CA education.
- 4. Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert outshines the state of Arizona in almost every way when it comes to educational milestones. Although the city's student-teacher ratio is slightly behind Arizona's, the city exceeds expectations when it comes to graduation rates. On the high school level, Gilbert's residents have a graduation rate 12 percentage points above Arizona's average rate. The percentage of adults with bachelor's degrees is about 12 percentage points higher than the rest of the state as well. Gilbert doesn't have a long list of post-secondary educational facilities within its boundaries, but its close proximity to other large cities gives residents plenty of choices for an advanced education. Learn more about Gilbert, AZ education.
- 5. Arlington, VA
Arlington, Virginia, makes a strong entry on this list with its low student-teacher ratio. While the country has an average ratio of 16-to-1, Arlington has a significantly lower ratio of 12-to-1. The state of Virginia has a strong high school graduation rate at 83%, but Arlington beats the state with a 92% graduation rate. The difference is even starker among college graduates; 71% of Arlington's residents have a bachelor's degree, but only 28.5% of the country's residents have earned a bachelor's degree. Arlington is only home to one main college campus, but several colleges have satellite campuses in the area. Learn more about Arlington, VA education.
- 6. Plano, TX
The city of Plano leaves the rest of the state of Texas in the dust when it comes to education. Almost 92% of the city's residents have finished the eighth grade, but only 77.8% of Texans can say the same. The discrepancy between Plano and Texas is similar when it comes to high school graduation. Plano also has strong numbers for advanced degrees; approximately 20% of the city's residents hold a master's degree. Plano is the home of several universities, and its proximity to Dallas helps residents gain access to a diverse number of learning opportunities in that city as well. Learn more about Plano, TX education.
- 7. Seattle, WA
Seattle, Washington, is a rapidly growing city known for its plentiful rains. The city's education numbers hint that residents spend most of their rainy days reading to escape the puddles and winds. Over 80% of the city's residents have finished some college, and nearly 23% have earned a master's degree. Younger students benefit from personalized attention in the classroom; the city has a student-teacher ratio of 18-to-1, placing it above Washington's ratio of 20-to-1. Seattle has 30 post-secondary schools for its residents to choose between, including the University of Washington and Seattle University. Learn more about Seattle, WA education.
- 8. Lincoln, NE
Named for the sixteenth president of the United States, Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and a city that values the education of its residents. The city is home to over 70 public schools and 25 private schools, giving students a number of options for education. The high school graduation rate of almost 90% puts the city ahead of both Nebraska and the country. College-bound students have plenty of schools to choose from in Lincoln; the city is home to nine colleges, with the largest school enrolling over 20,000 students. Nearly 47% of residents have earned at least an associate degree, and 36% have graduated with a bachelor's degree. Learn more about Lincoln, NE education.
- 9. Virginia Beach, VA
Although Virginia Beach, Virginia, is known for its relaxed resort atmosphere, the city's residents are not slackers about their educational pursuits. The city's school system includes 90 schools, with 37 private schools also available. Virginia Beach's graduation numbers are strong, with 90% of students completing eighth grade and high school. On the college level, the city's numbers are similar to state of Virginia and the United States, but there are over 20 post-secondary schools to choose from, including satellite campuses run by Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. Learn more about Virginia Beach, VA education.
- 10. Colorado Springs, CO
Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado, Colorado Springs is a city full of outdoor adventures, a growing population and plentiful educational opportunities. The city is home to over 150 public schools and 15 post-secondary schools, including Colorado College and Colorado Technical University. The city's graduation rates are not too different from Colorado's numbers, but they are an improvement over the national averages. For example, although 46% of Colorado Spring's residents have an associate degree, only 36% of the country's citizens have earned the same degree. Learn more about Colorado Springs, CO education.
You can refer to the Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The results are sortable, and it allows you to filter by the population as well as your preferred state.