Visalia-Porterville metro area ranks last among nation’s largest cities in the education level of its residents
TULARE COUNTY – As local families prepare to go back to school this month, a new report is giving Tulare County and its residents a failing grade when it comes to education.
Tulare County, and more specifically the Visalia-Porterville metropolitan statistical area (MSA), ranked dead last in adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, quality of the public school system, and racial and gender gaps in local education. This led to an overall rank of 150 out of 150 MSAs across the nation and the dubious distinction of being America’s least educated area.
To determine where the most educated Americans are putting their degrees to work, WalletHub, a consumer financial and analysis web site, compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. Visalia-Porterville was also ranked in the top 5 for lowest percent of bachelor’s degree holders and lowest percent of graduate or professional degree holders.
Visalia-Porterville ranked 148 in the two major metrics studied by the report: ‘educational attainment’ and ‘quality of education and attainment gap’ based on data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, GreatSchools.org, Education Cities.org, Yelp and WalletHub research.
Educational attainment looked at the percentage of adults 25 and older with a high school diploma, at least some college experience and those who have earned an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.
Quality of education and attainment gap studied the quality of the public school system, number of students enrolled in the top universities, summer learning opportunities, racial and gender gaps in degree holders and an educational equality index, which compared the proficiency of low-income students to higher income students on state testing.
Bakersfield and Fresno were near Visalia-Porterville in educational attainment with ranks of 145 and 147. For quality of education and attainment gap, Bakersfield ranked 135 while Fresno faired much better at 53. Out of a possible score of 100, Fresno received a score of 25.54, Bakersfield a score of 16.28 and Visalia-Porterville received the lowest score at 6.87.
WalletHub said the study is important because higher levels of education tend to lead to higher salaries. And the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment. People also tend to marry others of the same educational level. Already having a large educated population may be a good way to draw in even more people with degrees.