Arkansas was ranked No. 48 in the Best States Rankings of the U.S. News & World Report published Feb. 28.
Arkansas ranked No. 50 in health care, No. 39 in education, No. 48 in crime and corrections, No. 45 in infrastructure, No. 47 in opportunity, No. 37 in economy and No. 29 in government.
The report chose health care, education, crime and corrections, infrastructure, opportunity, economy and government based on a survey of 11,100 adults ages 18 and up to reach a demographically representative sample of 500 responses from 22 states. There were also more than five dozen categories that were used to calculate the rankings more precisely. The report used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With respect to the UofA and other state universities, the four-year college graduation rate is close to last at No. 45. The state ranks No. 14 in low debt at graduation and No. 16 in tuition and fees.
“The education rankings measure how well states educate students in pre-school, K-12 and different levels of higher education,” according to the report.
There is a disparity between where Fayetteville lays in city rankings and the state of Arkansas’ ranking.
“U.S. News & World Report coordinates a lot of rankings including ranking Fayetteville among the top five Best Places to Live in the U.S. two years in a row,” said Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of University Relations. “I can’t speak to the methodology used for ranking states, but it’s not included as a part of the methodology used for ranking higher education institutions.”
Rushing declined to comment on how he thought this ranking would affect the UofA.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said that he views Fayetteville and the UofA as a model for the rest of the state, as it has greatly impacted the surrounding community in a positive manner.
While the mayor recognizes the steps needed to improve, he said he hopes the UofA “continues to serve as a center for success.”
“Although Arkansas’ ranking does not accurately represent the vision for its long-term success, the city of Fayetteville is constantly striving towards new innovation and growth within the Northwest Arkansas community,” Jordan said.
Arkansas is ranked No. 1 in disability employment and in the top ten for pre-K quality, low prison overpopulation and cost of living. The website also acknowledges the natural state as “some of the country’s most stunning and diverse geography is found in Arkansas.”
The states are ranked by McKinsey & Company using “thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens,” according to the U.S. News & World Report website.
The data used by McKinsey & Company was taken from 2015, so improvements in 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have not been taken into account, according to their website.
“In some cases, data for certain states are missing because not all states provide data for all metrics. In other cases, especially in states with small populations, there weren’t enough people to have a statistically significant sample in a given year, which led to missing values,” according to the website.
The top five states in order were Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington. Arkansas was followed only by Mississippi and Louisiana.
The purpose of ranking states is to show which state policies are working and which need improvement as well as to encourage citizens to become more aware of issues within their state, according to the U.S. News & World Report website.
“More weight was accorded to some state measures than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people,” according to the website.