Education Indicators

Education Indicators

Historically, the high level of the productivity of the American workforce has been a key driver of the country's prosperity.  Productivity has been tightly linked to educational attainment and is likely to become more so in the emerging knowledge economy.  

Through programs like the GI Bill, Pell Grants, and the subsidized student loan program, the U.S. greatly expanded access to a college education.  At the close of World War II, the Census indicates that only about 5 percent of the adult population in the United States had attained a bachelor's degree.  By 2019, the Census tells us that 33.1% of all adults had attained an undergraduate degree.  

However, the rest of the world has been making massive investments in education.  A recent study by the World Population Review rated the educational systems of 66 middle- and high-income countries and the U.S. was only slightly above average overall and with respect to reading, math and science.  The following table, drawn from the World Population Review data, paints a dismal picture of the U.S. relative to our primary economic competitor, China.

Ranking of U.S. and Chinese Educational Systems

Total Score

Reading Score

Math Score

Science Score











In terms of education in the St. Croix River Valley counties:

  • Expenditures per pupil have been growing in all six counties, but remain below state average spending in Pierce, Washington, and Chisago counties.
  • They tend to score relatively well with respect to third grade reading proficiency, though that proportion has been falling in Washington and Chisago Counties.’
  • They also do well relative to their states with respect to eighth grade math scores, though large proportions in all six counties are not achieving the expected level of mastery.
  • With the exception of Burnett County, all have strong 4-year high school graduation rates.
  • Only Washington and St. Croix Counties have higher than state-average percentages of their population with at least a 4-year college degree.