Free Enterprise Staff  | January 9, 2015

10 Best and 10 Worst Academic Performers (Interactive Infographic)

UPDATED January 9th, 2015

Researchers have increasingly stressed the importance of early childhood education as being a critical component in a young person’s development. Since we put together this interactive infographic last fall ranking various state education systems, we were intrigued by a recent story from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the subject.

Over at the Foundation’s blog, Mark D’Alessio reported on the release of Education Week’s annual report card, which ranked U.S. states according to the effectiveness and participation rates of their early childhood education programs. Which states were the top and bottom performers? Perhaps unsurprisingly, that list looks pretty similar to our own overall rankings, with Massachusetts placing first overall in terms of outcomes.

Having a high-quality education system is, of course, critically important to any country that hopes to remain economically competitive in today’s globalized economy. So if you haven’t yet, check out our own interactive infographic and then head over to the Foundation Blog to see a breakdown of the early childhood education rankings.


Over the past few decades, the U.S. education system has lost ground academically to our international counterparts. On the 2013 PISA rankings of 34 OECD countries, the U.S. scored in the middle of the pack or worse in math, science, and reading. The country’s poor performance could have major implications for the future, impacting the economy as a whole as employers struggle to recruit qualified workers and innovation is stymied.

This interactive infographic explores the state of the U.S. education system as it relates to the states themselves. Using data from a number of sources, including the College Board, ACT, and the annual Leaders & Laggards study, we’ve compiled a list of the top and bottom academic performers. Though not a definitive list, our assessment takes into account numerous data points such as states’ ACT and SAT participation rates and their AP STEM passage rates.