Education is the process of imparting and acquiring general knowledge as well as particular skills.  This section covers education at the K-12 level and higher education.

National Rankings provide data on how New Jersey compares to other states on measures of Education.

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Education data within New Jersey and its impact on life in the State.

International Rankings provide data that puts New Jersey in a global context.


National Rankings compared to other states, New Jersey ranks...

10thin High School Advanced College Placement Scores

February 11, 2014.      According to the College Board, 23.6% of New Jersey seniors graduating in 2013 scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam while in high school.  However, scores for low income and minorities continue to lag far behind their white counterparts.

• Top 10 in 8th Grade National Assessment of Educational Progress

February 21, 2014.  New Jersey eight graders ranked 2nd in reading and 8th in math in the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Data are from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 

• Among the Best for Fulbright Awards

October, 2013.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Princeton and Rutgers Universities tied for 4th place in the number of Fulbright scholarships received by doctoral-granting institutions in 2013-14 (26 each).  The only other state to have two top-ten schools was New York (Columbia, 8th andCornell, 10th).   

• 4th in Closing Achievment Test Score Gaps between Black and White Students 

March 25, 2013.  Between 2003 and 2011, the difference between black and white student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress narrowed by 25 points in New Jersey. This was approximately twice the narrowing at the national level.  According to the American Legislative Exchange Council's Report Card on American Education, only New York, Louisiana and Florida made better progress.   New Jersey's performance is especially noteworthy, because the state's students were already well-performing. Among states that performed above average on the tests, only Florida narrowed the racial gap in test scores more.     

• 3rd in Per Pupil Spending

March 13, 2013.  New Jersey had the 3rd highest per pupil expenditure according the the Children's Defense Fund 2013 Children's Report. The District of Columbia had the highest per pupil expenediture and Utah had the lowest.

• 6th in Percentage of Population with a Bachelor’s Degree

August, 2012.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, thirty-five percent of New Jersey residents age 25 and older have earned a bachelor's degree or higher.  This trails just four other states and the District of Columbia, which has the highest rate of educational attainment with 49.8% of adult residents over age 25 having earned bachelor's degerees.


9thin Number of Best Value Public Colleges

December 13, 2013.  There are three New Jersey colleges ranked in Kiplinger's 2014 top 100 schools for academic quality and affordability: College of New Jersey, Rutgers-New Brunswick, and Ramapo College.  New Jersey is tied for 9th with five other states for the largest number in the top 100 list. California had the most with 12.  New Jersey's rank is down from 6th in the 2013 report. 

10th in Student Debt

December, 2013.   In 2012, 65% of students graduating from colleges in New Jersey graduated with debt.  The average level of debt was $29,287.  This debt level ranked the state tenth highest in the nation, according to the annual report of the Institute for College Access and Success.  Interestingly, Princeton University is ranked as one of the lowest-debt universities in the nation.  On the other hand, Rowan University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Richard Stockton College, and the College of New Jersey are all among the highest-debt public colleges in the nation.   

Poorly for Best Value for Quality Colleges

September 9, 2013. US News ranks best value schools according to the 2014 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking and the 2012-2013 net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. There is only 1 New Jersey school ranked in for national universities: Princeton.  California had top ranking with 5 best value quality schools.  

 5th in College Operating Efficiency

December 6, 2012.  Two colleges in New Jersey rank in the US News most efficiently operated colleges: Rutgers-Newark and College of New Jersey. The rankings are based on operating efficiency, defined as a school's 2011 fiscal year financial resources per student divided by its overall score (the basis U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank) in the 2013 Best Colleges rankings. Virginia had the most efficiently operated colleges with 4.

• 2nd in Education for Children

June 10, 2013.  New Jersey ranked 2nd place behind Massachusetts in education according to the national KIDSCOUNT Data Book, the 2013 annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The four measures used to determine the education rank include: preschool attendance; 4th grade reading proficiency; 8th grade math proficiency; and on-time high school graduation rates.

• 3rd in K-12 Achievement

January 3, 2014.  According to according to the Education Week annual Quality Counts Report, NJ ranked third for K-12 achievement.  The index incorporates 18 different measures of student performance, high school graduation rates, and advanced placement scores.  New Jersey also ranked 2nd in the publication's Chance for Success index, which includess at demographic factors, early school and pre-school enrollments, and several edicational performance indicators.  On the other hand, the state ranked 38th in efforts to improving teaching through things such as professional development, evaluating teacher performance, and incentives.

• 5th in Number of Top 100 High Schools

April, 2013.  There are numerous New Jersey schools in the U.S. News Best High Schools 2013 rankings, including 32 with gold medals (up four from ;ast year).  The top New Jersey school, Biotechnology High School in the Monmouth County Vocational School District, ranked 8th in the country. 

• 7th in ACT Scores

July 12, 2013. New Jersey was 7th in the average ACT composite score in 2013, trailing Massachussetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and Minnesota. This was down several spots from last year (5th).  North Carolina was last in this year's rankings. 

• Hosts 2 of Top 100 Universities Worldwide

July 1, 2013.  New Jersey is host to 2 of the top 100 universities in the world. Princeton ranked 8th in the global university performance tables, and Rutgers ranked 43rd, according to the Center for World University Rankings. The rankings are based on faculty, publications, influence, citations, patents, education and employment.  Rutgers' ranking represented a big jump from 99th in last year's edition.

• 5th in the Average Salaries of Public School Teachers

February 22, 2013. The average salary of public school teachers in New Jersey was $66,612 for the 2010-2011 school year.  This was the 5th highest in the U.S., according to the National Education Association.  New York’s was the highest at $72,708, and South Dakota’s was the lowest at $39,850. The US average was $55,489.

• 3rd in Public School Revenue per Student

February 22, 2013. The public school revenue per student in New Jersey for the 2011-2012 school year was $18,829. This trailed only Vermont and New York, according to the National Education Association.

• 45th in State Education Spending Adjusted for Income

February 22, 2013. Total education spending in 2009-2010 by state government in New Jersey was $37 per $1,000 of personal income.  The US average was $46.  Source:  National Education Association.

• 42nd in State and Local Spending per Capitafor Higher Education

February 22, 2013. Total per capita spending on higher education by state and local governments in the US was $786, according to the National Education Association.  Over the same period, similar spending in New Jersey was $630, or just 80% of the US average.

• 3rd in Science and Engineering Readiness

Summer, 2011. New Jersey got the 3rd highest score on the Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI) that measures how well states’ K-12 schools are preparing their students for science and engineering careers. Massachusetts was the best in the U.S., while Mississippi received the lowest score in 2011.

• No. 2 in High School Graduation Rate

November, 2012.  With 91.8% of high school freshman graduating in 4 years, New Jersey’s on-time high school graduation rate for 2009-2010 was second only to Minnesota (92.1%) Nevada had the lowest rate at 65.5%.  Data are from the National Center for Education Statistics' 2012 Digest of Education Statistics.

High in America's Top Undergraduate Colleges

July 24, 2013.  Four New Jersey colleges rank in the top 200 Forbes Top Colleges in 2012: Princeton (ranked #1), Drew University, College of New Jersey, and Rutgers-New Brunswick. The rankings focus on what matters most to students: quality of teaching, career prospects, high graduation rates, and low-levels of debt. They do not attempt to assess a school’s reputation, nor are they a measure of academic selectivity and they ignore metrics that encourage schools to engage in wasteful spending. 

• 7th in Share of the Foreign Born Population with a Bachelor’s or Higher Degree

January, 2012.  In 2012, 36.5 percent of New Jersey's foreign-born population age 25 and older had a bachelor's or higher, according to the Migration Policy Institute (using data from the U.S. Census Bureau).  States in the Washington, DC area (Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware) led the nation.  Maryland had the highest rate, with 40.1% of foreign born adults over age 25 having a bachelor's degree or hgher.

8th in Number of Childcare Workers per Thousand

May, 2012. With 5.22 childcare workers per thousand jobs, New Jersey had the 8th highest in 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 19,790 childcare workers with an annual mean wage of $22,880.

• 4th in Percent of In-State College Enrollment

November, 2011.  Among students attending New Jersey colleges for the first time, 91% are from in-state.  This trails only Texas and California.  Data are from the National Center for Education Statistics.

1st in Exporting of College Students

November, 2011. Despite the number given above, New Jersey is a huge exporter of college students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  In 2010, 31,555 students attending college for the first time left New Jersey to attend schools in other states. The second place state, California (with much larger population), had 28,287 students leave its borders.  New Jersey's leadership in exporting students is even greater if one accounts for students imported.  Only 4,214 first-time students came into the state from outside, for a net loss of 26,941.  This net loss is nearly twice that of the next state (Illinois) at 14,399.   

• 14th in Number of Foreign Students

January 16, 2013.  When comparing New Jersey to the other states in the US and its territories, New Jersey has the 14th highest number of foreign students with 15,200 in 2012. California has the highest with 102,789 and the Virgin Islands had the lowest with 94 foreign students according to NAFSA: The Association of International Educators.  

• 6th in Foreign Student Contribution

When comparing New Jersey to the other states in the US and its territories, New Jersey received the 6th highest total contribution from foreign students, about $1.4 billion dollars in 2012.   Illinois has highest rank with $3.2 billion dollars.


International Rankings


• 20th in International Student Assessment 

January 9, 2013.  When comparing the US to 37 countries in the world, the US has the 20th highest grade of International student assessment with 496.4 in 2013. The average rate of total countries is 490.4. Finland has highest grade with 543.5 and Indonesia had the lowest grade with 385.1, according to the OECD Factbook 2013.

• 14th in Youth (aged 20 to 24) Inactivity 

January 9, 2013.  When comparing New Jersey to 34 countries in the world, New Jersey has the 14th lowest Youth (aged 20 to 24) inactivity rate with 14.8 percent in 2010. It is significantly lower than the United States average of 19.43 percent. The average rate of total countries is 18.2 percent. Luxembourg, had the lowest with only 7.52 percent, and Turkey had the highest with 43.67 percent according to the OECD Factbook 2013.

• 10th in Pupils per Teacher in Elementary Schools

When comparing New Jersey to 35 countries, New Jersey has the 10th lowest pupils per teacher in elementary schools with 12.7 in 2008. This is lower than the United States, ranked 13 with 14.3. The Greece has the lowest pupils per teacher in elementary schools with 10.08 and Mexico has the highest pupils per teacher in elementary schools with 28.02 according to the National Center for Education Statistics 2008.

• 2nd in Bachelor's Degree Recipients Rate

December,  2013.  If New Jersey were a country, it would rank 2nd in the percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree.  New Jersey's rate of 35% was just behind Norway at 35.2%.  The New Jersey rate is based on 2008-2010 for adults 25 years of age and older.  The international comparisons are based on adults age 25-64 in 34 OECD countries for the single year of 2010.  Data are from the National Center for Education Statistics' 2012 Digest of Education Statistics.


State and Local Reports

Education Funding Report 

In a 2012 report, the Education Commissioner of New Jersey advances a simple but powerful idea: if New Jersey is ever to conquer its shameful and persistent achievement gap, then education funding must be considered alongside essential policy reforms.

The Department is acutely aware of the existence of school and non-school factors that influence the success of a child’s life trajectory. Hence, the reforms proposed in this report cover a range of topics from community and parental engagement to teacher training and professional development. 
One of the key indicators is the the achievement gap, for example on measures of college readiness. The chart below shows the Statewide gap during the 2011-2012 school year. Over half of New Jersey’s white students met the College-Readiness Benchmark in 2011, compared to only 14% of African American students – a gap of 38% points – and only 21% of Hispanic students – a gap of 30% points.


Additional Reports

Ezra Levin and Benjamin Horowitz, Issue Brief: The Promise of Preschool, NJ Policy Perspective, April 2013.

Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Charter School Performance in New Jersey, Stanford University, November 2012.
New Jersey Early Education Profile, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers, 2012.
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, “2012 Child Care in the State of: New Jersey,” March 2012. 
Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Preparing for a Greener Tomorrow: How Publicly Funded Education and Training Institutions in New Jersey Are Responding to Emerging Demand for a Green Workforce, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, October 2011.

2010 Top High Schools, NJ Monthly, August 2010.

Paul Tractenberg, “Beyond Educational Adequacy: Looking Backward and Forward Through the Lens of New Jersey” in A Quality Education for Every Child: Stories from the Lawyers on the Front Lines (Institute for Educational Equity and Opportunity, 2009).



Data from the NJ DataBank may be used with the following acknowledgement:

Source: NJ DataBank (, a project of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Campus at Newark