Minnesota Rankings

How Minnesota fares depends on who’s talking and what they’re looking at.

See how Minnesota Ranks according to various sources with various priorities:

Public Education Finances 2010 – Minnesota ranked 35th on total school revenue (all sources) and 37th on total school spending as a percent of personal income for the 2009-10 school year, US Census Bureau (Excel file; see Table 12), June 2012. Detailed rankings:

Revenues by source
11th, on revenue from state sources
35th, on total school revenue, all sources
45th, on revenue from local sources
35th, on revenue from federal sources

Spending categories
18th, on spending for general administration
27th, on spending for instructional salaries
26th, on spending for instructional benefits
30th, on total spending for instruction
37th, on total school spending
49th, on spending for school administration

(Note: Table 12 is a better reflection of state capacity for support than the data in Table 11 used as the basis for this Pioneer Press article.)

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card – The central purpose of the Report Card is to evaluate the extent to which state systems ensure equality of educational opportunity for all children, regardless of background, family income, where they live or where they attend school. As noted, equal educational opportunity means that all children (and the public schools that serve them) have access to those resources, inputs and services necessary to provide the “opportunity to learn” — that is, the opportunity to achieve established outcome goals, Education Law Center, June 2012 (Full Report; Interactive Map).

  • Fairness Measure #1: Funding Level

    Minnesota ranks 16th on Funding Level at $11,533 per pupil in predicted state and local revenue (as compared to the top 10 states at $13,031-$19,520). This is above the national average of $10,774 per pupil.

  • Fairness Measure #2: Funding Distribution

    Minnesota earned a B on funding distribution fairness with districts with poverty concentrations over 30% receiving 130% of base funding as compared to districts with 0% poverty, although this has declined from 138% in 2007.

In Minnesota there is no predicted increase or decrease in spending in relation to poverty, although this may be because all districts are funding at similar levels or because there is variation in spending but that variation is not related to poverty.

  • Funding Fairness Slope

    States can be “flat,” distributing revenue at the same level to districts regardless of poverty or they can have a downward or “regressive” funding distribution slope or an upward or “progressive” distribution slope, resulting in greater funding levels for high-poverty districts.

Minnesota has a positive slope, although recent threats to integration aid put that at risk.

  • Fairness Measure #3: State Effort

    This measure is based on the percentage of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to education. The state GDP represents the value added in production by the labor and capital located within the state; the measure shows the percent of state-level economic productivity allocated to or spent on public education.

Minnesota ranks 15th in the nation on per capita GDP but 31st on state effort with 3.6% of the state’s GDP allocated to education.

The effort index does not appear to be related to the overall wealth of the state. For example, Delaware has the third largest per capita GDP in the nation ($61,248) but shows the least effort toward education at 2.5%. Seven states with per capita GDP greater than Minnesota invest in education at higher levels: New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Wyoming, Connecticut, Alaska and Massachusetts at an average of 4.6%.

Minnesota earned a “C” for showing average state effort in allocating resources to schools as a function of the revenue generating capacity of the state.

  • Fairness Measure #4: Coverage 

    States are ranked by a combined score of the percentage of students who attend public schools and the household income ratio between public- and private-school students. Coverage rates vary significantly among the states, from a low of 78% in Washington, D.C. to 93% in Wyoming and Utah. In addition, the median household income of public- and private-school students varies widely.

The coverage data further illuminate the state fairness profiles. Public schools in Louisiana and Delaware, for example, enroll about 80% of their school-age children, with those students disproportionately from lower-income households. As a result, the fairness profile in these states — funding level and distribution to districts relative to poverty — does not capture the one-fifth of school-age children who are enrolled in private schools and are disproportionately from higher income households.

Minnesota ranks 26th in the nation on coverage with 86% of children enrolled in public schools, with private school median household income $40,861 greater than public school.

April 11, 2012 – Children’s voices unheard in funding debates – A new U.S. report released Tuesday says per-child spending in State-funded pre-K programs has declined more than $700 over the past 10 years. As a result, say advocates for early childhood education, African American children are not getting the preparation they need to succeed in later schooling…. Minnesota ranks 10th among all states in reported resources per child enrolled in pre-K, but the report also shows a smaller percentage of four-year-olds enrolled in the state today than a decade ago. Among the 39 states that currently have State-funded pre-K programs, Minnesota is 38th (next to last place) in four-year-olds enrolled (1.5 percent of eligible children) and three-year-olds enrolled (1.0 percent of eligible children). By comparison, Florida is in first place with 76 percent of eligible children enrolled, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

March 2012 – Building a Grad Nation Report: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic – Minnesota’s graduation rate grew by 3.5 percent from 83.9% to 87.4% from 2002 to 2009, making Minnesota one of six “role model” states. Minnesota is now tied with North Dakota at 87.3%, with only Wisconsin and Vermont graduating a higher percentage of their high school students. Only two states with graduation rates above 80% gained at a higher rate: Wisconsin and Vermont. The report also highlights two Minnesota programs, the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota and the Minnesota Reading Corps, America’s Promise Alliance (Growth & Justice article).

February 16, 2012 – No relief in 2012 from high unemployment for African Americans and Latinos – Even though the U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009, the country’s unemployment rate remains devastatingly high. The situation is particularly dire for many African Americans and Latinos—and is not predicted to improve any time soon. Among the states with sufficient data for reliable estimates, African American unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 24 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2011, while unemployment rates for Latinos exceeded this symbolic threshold in 14 states, Economic Policy Institute.

Minnesota Ranks #1 in the nation on black unemployment with 27.4 percent of blacks unemployed as compared to 7.1 percent overall—3.9 times the overall rate.

  • The highest unemployment rate for blacks—27.4 percent—was in Minnesota, where the overall unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. The lowest was in Maryland, which had a black unemployment rate of 11.2 percent, while the overall rate in the state was 7.3 percent.
  • In each state, the black unemployment rate is higher than the overall rate. In the third quarter of 2011, it ranged from a low of 1.4 times the overall state rate in South Carolina to a high of 3.9 times the overall rate in Minnesota.

January 2012 – Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform – Minnesota ranks 18th on state performance, earns a B+ on education policy, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), (Minnesota State Report).

November 2011 – Best and Worst Run States in America: An Analysis Of All 5024/7 Wall St. reviews data on financial health, standard of living and government services by state to determine how well each state is managed. Based on this data, the best-run state is Wyoming. The worst-run state is California. Minnesota ranks 4th best, 24/7 Wall St.

October 2011 – New School Year Brings Steep Cuts in State Funding for Schools – Elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding than last year in at least 37 states, and in at least 30 states school funding now stands below 2008 levels – often far below. These cuts are attributable, in part, to the failure of the federal government to extend emergency fiscal aid to states and school districts and the failure of most states to enact needed revenue increases and instead to balance their budgets solely through spending cuts. The cuts have significant consequences, both now and in the future: They are causing immediate public- and private-sector job loss, and in the long term are likely to reduce student achievement and economic growth, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Full report).


Minnesota Highlights:


  • State funding for Minnesota schools declines to 7.7% below 2008 funding levels when adjusted for inflation
  • Minnesota is among the top 10 states making the deepest cuts to education

September 2011 – Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education 2011 – Minnesota and 34 other states earned an “F” because their academic standards require little or no mention of the civil rights movement, Southern Poverty Law Center (Minnesota report; Press release; Pioneer Press article).

April 2011 – Competitiveness of state and local business taxes on new investment – Ranks states by tax burden on new investment: Minnesota has the 10th lowest rate of state and local business taxes on new investment, 13th lowest Effective Tax Rate when weighted by jobs and 10th lowest when weighted by capital investment, Ernst & Young LLP (**The Atlantic article**).

March 15, 2011 – Tech Jobs: Where Moving Forward is Just Catching Up – When it comes to high-tech research and development and jobs, Minnesota is both leading the pack and lagging behind, signaling wasted potential to grow companies and advance our state’s technology industry. Research from the Milken Institute, National Science Foundation, and The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation compared states on performance and investment in technology innovation and development, Minnesota 2020.

This research notes conflicting numbers for our state:

  • Minnesota ranks 7th nationally in industry research and development, but only 42nd in entrepreneurial activity in starting new businesses;
  • Minnesota ranks 8th in workforce education, but only 21st in fast growing firms;
  • Minnesota ranks 8th in number of scientists and engineers, but 23rd in bringing in federal R&D support for that talented workforce;
  • Minnesota ranks 9th in inventor patents; but only 24th in exports of manufacturing and services.

January 11, 2011 – Quality Counts 2011 – Awards state grades for education performance and policy. Minnesota ranks 26th with an Overall score of 74.6, below the U.S. average score of 76.3. Special theme explores impact of economic downturn on American education, Education Week (Press release).

MINNESOTA Overall Score: C (74.6)
Chance for Success: B+ (87.2)
Early foundations: A- (91.6)
School years: B (84.4)
Adult outcomes: B+ (87.2)
Standards, Assessments, & Accountability: C (73.3)
Standards: C- (71.4)
Assessments: B+ (88.3)
School accountability: D- (60.0)
K-12 Achievement: C (73.7)
Status: B- (81.4)
Change: C- (71.7)
Equity: D (63.6)
Transitions & Alignment: C- (71.4)
Early-childhood education: B- (80.0)
College readiness: D- (60.0)
Economy & workforce: C (75.0)
School Finance: C (74.2)
Equity: B (86.4)
Spending: D- (62.1)
The Teaching Profession: D+ (67.5)
Accountability for quality: C- (70.6)
Incentives & allocation: D (65.4)
Building & supporting capacity: D+ (66.7)


January 10, 2011- Average class size by state – Minnesota ranks 47th and 49th in elementary class sizes based on information provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (Education Minnesota).

December 2010 – Shut Out of the Military: Today’s High School Education Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready for Today’s Army – Examines data from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) administered to potential Army recruits gathered from 2004 to 2009. Among young high school graduates, about one in five do not meet the minimum standard necessary to enlist in the U.S. Army. Wide disparities in eligibility by race/ethnicity between and within states provide a report card on how state educational systems do—and don’t—prepare different groups of students.

According to this report, Minnesota:

  • Ranks 6th in the nation for % of students passing the Army entrance exam overall with 84% of all applicants qualifying,
  • 28th for % of African-American students with just 60% qualifying, 1% below the national average, and
  • 4th for % of Hispanic students with 80% qualifying, 9% above the national average

November 2010 – State Capital Spending on PK-School Facilities – Minnesota ranks 21st on State Share of Capital Outlay for school facilities. Public school districts in Minnesota reported spending an average of $1,021 per student per year from all sources on capital outlay for school construction and for acquisition of land and existing structures in fiscal years 2005 through 2008, the national average was $1,086 per student. School districts in Minnesota reported outstanding long term debt for K-12 public school systems of$9 billion ($9,047,479,000) at the end of 2008.  The 2008 interest payments for this long term indebtedness were $427 million $427,109,000), 21st Century School Fund.

October 12, 2010 – Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card – Are school finance systems in the 50 states fair? Simply comparing overall funding levels won’t answer that question. This report describes the limitations of existing school funding measures and proposes a new measure for comparing state school finance systems, Education Law Center.

According to this report, Minnesota:

  • Ranks 15th in overall school funding
  • Earns an “A” for funding distribution to districts within the state, but
  • Earns a “D” for state effort as demonstrated by the percentage of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to education
  • Spends 94% of what is needed to bring all students to median level achievement.

* Rank/grades based on 2005-2007 data.

February 2010 (Updated) – Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 – Minnesota ranks 18th on average teacher salary at $49,634, $1,200 below the national average. Data is based on the 2006-2007 school year, drawn from the National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, provided by National Science Foundation Division of Science Resources Statistics (PDF file; Source Data).

May 2009 – Opportunity to Learn Campaign – Measures access to four core resources: 1) high-quality early education; 2) highly qualified teachers and instructors in grades K-12; 3) college preparatory curricula that will prepare all youth for college, work and community; and 4) equitable instructional resources.

Minnesota ranks 4th among the states when the Opportunity to Learn of the state’s disadvantaged students is combined with a measure of educational quality. Nonetheless, Minnesota’s Black, Latino and Native American students, taken together, have less than 60 percent of the opportunity to learn in the state’s best-supported, bestperforming schools than the state’s White, non-Latino students.A low-income student has less than 70 percent of the opportunity to learn of the average White, non-Latino student, Schott Foundation for Public Education (Minnesota Report).

High Access Low Access
Moderate Proficiency 1   Vermont   42%
2   Maine     37%
3   New Hampshire     37%
4   Minnesota     37%
5   Oregon     34%
6   Washington     34%
7   Idaho     32%
8   Virginia     34%
9   South Dakota   37%
10  Iowa     36%
11  Connecticut     37%
12  Massachusetts     43%
13  New Jersey     39%
14  Montana     39%
15  Pennsylvania     36%
16  Ohio     36%
17  Colorado     35%
18  Wisconsin     33%
19  Maryland     33%
20  Kansas     35%
21  Nebraska     35%
22  Wyoming     33%
23  North Dakota     32%
24  New York     32%
Low Proficiency 25   Delaware   31%
26   Utah     30%
27   Alaska     27%
28   Indiana     31%
29   North Carolina    28%
30   Kentucky     28%
31   Florida     28%
32   Oklahoma     26%
33   Hawaii     20%
34   Louisiana     19%
35   New Mexico     17%
36   Georgia     26%
38   Tennessee     26%
37   South Carolina    25%
39   Alabama     21%
40   California     21%
41   Mississippi     17%
42   Missouri   31%
44   Texas     28%
43   Rhode Island     27%
45   Illinois     30%
46   Michigan     28%
47   Arkansas     25%
48   Arizona     24%
50   Nevada     22%
49   West Virginia     23%
51   DC     12%


August 2010 – Public Elementary and Secondary School Student Enrollment and Staff Counts From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2008–09 – Minnesota ranks well below the national average on student to staff ratios for staff providing direct services to student, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Minnesota ranks:

  • 36th on Students/Teacher (Minnesota has an average of 15.7 students/teacher as compared to Vermont with 10.5 students/teacher)
  • 34th on Kindergarten Students/Teacher (Minnesota has an average of 22.8 Kindergarteners/Teacher as compared to Arkansas with 11.1 Kindergarteners/Teacher)
  • 36th on Elementary Students/Teacher (Minnesota has an average of 21 Elementary Students/Teacher as compared to Maine with 11.3 Elementary Students/Teacher)
  • 30th on Secondary Students/Teacher (Minnesota has an average of 11.4 Secondary Students/Teacher as compared to Kansas with 7.4 Secondary Students/Teacher)
  • 49th on Students/Guidance Counselor (Minnesota has an average of 759 Students/Guidance Counselor as compared to Wyoming with 197 Students/Guidance Counselor)
  • 38th on Students/School Librarian (Minnesota has an average of 1,028 Students/School Librarian as compared to Montana with 372 Students/School Librarian)
  • 43rd on Students/School Administrator (Minnesota has an average of 395 Students/School Administrator as compared to the U.S. average of 308 Students/School Administrator), and
  • 11th on Students/School District Administrator (Minnesota has an average of 404 Students/School District Administrator as compared to the U.S. average of 793 Students/School District Administrator)

June 2010 – School Nurse Ratios by State and FAQs – Minnesota ranks 37th on the ratio of students per school nurse, with 1,907 students per school nurse as compared to Vermont with 311 students per school nurse, National Association of School Nurses.

January 28, 2010 – On Our Way to Average: Ranking Minnesota’s Economic Performance – On all three education indicators-pupil-teacher ratio, students at or above “basic” level in math and reading, and per capita state and local spending on education-Minnesota’s performance declined relative to other states. The following graph shows Minnesota’s ranking on each performance indicator in 2002 and the most recent year data were available. A ranking of “1” denotes the best performance among the 50 states, Minnesota 2020.

January 2010 – Quality Counts 2010 – Minnesota earns a C (75.4); Ranked 29th in the Nation, below the national average, Education Week (Press Release).

Chance for Success: B+ (87.0)
Early foundations: A (93.7)
School years: B (82.7)
Adult outcomes: B+ (87.0)
Standards, Assessments, & Accountability: C (73.3)
Standards: C- (71.4)
Assessments: B+ (88.3)
School accountability: D- (60.0)
K-12 Achievement: C (74.3)
Status: C+ (77.9)
Change: C- (70.2)
Equity: C (75.0)
Transitions & Alignment: C (75.0)
Early-childhood education: B- (80.0)
College readiness: C- (70.0)
Economy & workforce: C (75.0)
School Finance: C (75.6)
Equity: B+ (87.6)
Spending: D (63.6)
The Teaching Profession: D+ (67.5)
Accountability for quality: C- (70.6)
Incentives & allocation: D (65.4)
Building & supporting capacity: D+ (66.7)


November 2009 – Leaders and Laggards – A State-By-State Report Card of Educational Innovation.  Minnesota earns a D for School Management: Minnesota does a poor job managing its schools in a way that encourages thoughtful innovation. While the state has enacted an excellent charter school law, 94% of teachers report that routine duties and paperwork interfere with their teaching (Minnesota State Report), Center for American Progress.

Minnesota Scores Compared to 2007

  • Minnesota (249) has one of the highest scale scores for fourth grade math behind Massachusetts (252) and New Hampshire (251). No other state had a significantly higher score than Minnesota: Four states had similar scores (Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey) and the rest were significantly lower than Minnesota.
  • Minnesota fourth-grade students improved math scores by two points (from 247 to 249) exceeding the national average by ten points (249 compare to 239).
  • In eighth-grade, Minnesota (294) was second in the nation exceeded only by Massachusetts (299). Vermont, North Dakota and New Jersey and New Hampshire scored similar to Minnesota (293), and all other states scoring significantly lower.
  • Eighth-grade students improved in math (from 292 to 294), mirroring the national average increase (from 280 to 282). Minnesota remains 12 points above the national average and only Massachusetts posted results statistically higher than Minnesota.

African-American and Hispanic fourth grade improvement from 2007

  • Minnesota’s African-American students improved from 222 to 227 in fourth grade mathematics and exceeded the nation’s scale score (222). Minnesota remains five points above the nation (222).
  • Minnesota Hispanic students improved from 229 to 232 in fourth-grade mathematics and exceeded the nation’s scale score by five points (227).
  • Minnesota’s African-American students made improvements from 260 to 264 in eighth-grade mathematics and exceeded the nation’s scale score (260). Minnesota remains four points above the national average (260).
  • Minnesota Hispanic students remained at 269 in eighth-grade mathematics with Hispanic students scoring four points above the national average 266.

August 19, 2009 – Minnesota Students Widen State’s Lead on ACT Scores – Minnesota’s 2009 high school graduates increased the state’s average ACT score from 22.6 to 22.7 on a 0 to 36 scale, pushing Minnesota further ahead of other states where the majority of students take the ACT college entrance exam. Minnesota has led the nation in average ACT scores for five consecutive years and the average score has increased each of the last three years. The average ACT score for 2009 high school graduates nationally was 21.1, Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

April 2009 – Education Watch State Report – Minnesota has one of the largest Achievement Gaps in the nation, Education Trust.

2007 NAEP Minnesota Rankings:
(Average Scale Score)

Grade 4 Reading
35th on the achievement of African-American students (well below the US average)
37th on the achievement of Latino students (again well below the US average)
31st on the achievement of low income students (slightly above the US average)
17th on the achievement of high income students (slightly above the US average)

Grade 8 Mathematics
17th on the achievement of African-American students (slightly above the US average)
14th on the achievement of Latino students (above the US average)
9th on the achievement of low income students (above the US average)
3rd on the achievement of high income students (well above the US average)

Minnesota ranks:
3rd in the nation for access to qualified teachers (2003-04)
21st in the nation on total federal, state and local K-12 funding per pupil (2005-06)
32nd in the nation on state college affordability supplemented by 8th in the nation on need-based state aid for tuition (2006)

March 2009 –  Technology Counts 2009 – E-education expands opportunities for raising achievement, Education Week.

Minnesota ranked:

21st on technology use, with a grade of B-

40th on technology capacity, with a grade of D

Minnesota lagging in number of ESL teachers – A study by Education Week magazine found a 49-to-1 ratio of ESL students to certified teachers in Minnesota. Nationally, the ratio stands at 19 to 1, Star Tribune, January 6, 2009.