Educational Achievement by Zip Code

Educational attainment is a key driver of opportunity and social mobility. Higher levels of education are associated with lower poverty rates and increased access to social and economic resources (APA, 2007).

Using data from the Census Bureau we identified the most educated ZIP codes in each state. The analysis includes high school and post secondary education data.

High School Graduation or Higher

While educational attainment is widely considered a key determinant of health, analyses of place-based statistics suggest that other social determinants such as housing and employment, food security, access to health care, neighborhood and built environment characteristics, and violence also impact on-time high school graduation rates. Relationships varied by sex, race/ethnicity and cSES.

Many have wondered whether the recent steep increases in high school graduation rates are an accountability-fueled mirage, sparked by No Child Left Behind’s focus on test scores and subsequent pressure to raise graduation rates. In Tennessee, for example, a wide swath of ZIP codes still lag far behind the state average.

Bachelors Degree or Higher

A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. It also tends to lead to higher earnings, even in the early stages of a career.

A college degree can be a ticket to wealth, especially in high-demand fields such as technology, education, and health. The average weekly income of Americans with a college degree is 67% higher than that of those with just a high school diploma.

Some degrees can take less time, such as an MBA, which can be completed in just one year. Others can take longer, such as a doctorate. However, the fastest route to wealth might be a two-year associate degree.

Associate Degree or Higher

An associate degree is a two-year post-secondary degree offered by community colleges and vocational schools. It is often viewed as lower level than a bachelor’s degree, but it still counts as higher education.

It gives you the credentials to show you have some educational background beyond high school and can often help you get better paying jobs. You can also use an associate degree as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree may be more expensive, but it opens the door to many higher-paying careers. People with a college degree have lower unemployment rates and are usually paid more than those with just a high school diploma.

No Schooling or Dropouts

Many people who drop out of school do so for a variety of reasons including getting married, having children and having to work or care for a family member. Household income impacts these decisions as well, with low-income students more likely to leave school and rely on welfare and public assistance.

This exhibit shows the number of people in each zip code with no schooling at all or who never completed high school. It also includes the percentage with a GED certificate or equivalent. Those who have an associate degree are asked on the ACS survey to specify whether they earned it as a vocational or academic degree.

Public High School or Private High School

There are many options available for parents in the United States. For example, New York City has a great selection of public and private high schools. Private schools tend to have higher academic standards. In fact, according to research from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), students at private high schools perform better on standardized tests.

Also, they are more likely to offer a wide range of programs. These include sports, theater and debate clubs. Moreover, they are less likely to cut these programs due to budget constraints. In addition, students at private schools are usually safer. They are also less likely to see gang graffiti or be called hate-related names at school.

Public Post Secondary Education or Private Post Secondary Education

Post secondary education is any school that offers higher educational learning opportunities beyond high school. These schools include four-year universities, community colleges and trade schools.

Research shows that education after high school has many benefits, including upward mobility for students and their families. However, it is important to note that race, ethnicity and income are often predictors of access and success in post secondary education.

The majority of counties have partnerships with local higher education institutions that provide resources and opportunities to students. These partnerships can include sharing of data, internships and offering of county land for student use. This collaboration has the potential to expand career pathways in these counties.

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