Published: Jan 28, 2017
Oklahoma ranks 41 in a new analysis of the most educated states in the nation based on 11 metrics ranging from percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma to gender gap in educational attainment.
Massachusetts scored 80.65 of a possible 100 points to top the WalletHub analysis of 2017's Most & Least Educated States. West Virginia finished last with 11.99.
Analysts for the personal finance website compared the 50 states in two areas. States could earn up to 80 points for Educational Attainment and up to 20 points for Quality of Education & Attainment Gap.
Oklahoma scored 31.86 points. It ranked 41 overall in Educational Attainment and 20 in Quality of Education & Attainment Gap.
The state's best placements were 16 in the number of students enrolled in top universities per capita and 19 in the difference between the percentage of female and male bachelor's degree holders.
But the analysis shows only 24 percent of adults have a bachelor's degree and only 8 percent have a graduate or professional degree, which contributed to Oklahoma's placement in the bottom 10 states.
Gov. Mary Fallin said higher education is critical to meeting Oklahoma's workforce needs. Projections show 77 percent of the state's jobs in 2025 will require education beyond high school, Fallin said.
A new state initiative called Launch Oklahoma aspires to increase the number of workers with a college degree, certificate or other quality credential by about 600,000 by that time.
Thousands of jobs go unfilled in Oklahoma because businesses cannot find workers with the education and training needed, said Natalie Shirley, secretary of education and workforce development.
The new initiative will focus on helping adults ages 25-64 obtain the skills and degrees they need to fill those jobs, Shirley said.
Data used to determine the 2017's Most & Least Educated States rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics, The Chronicle of Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report.