LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - Lafayette is in the Top 20 in the country when it comes to the quality of our local education, according to a new study from WalletHub. However, the city also ranks among the worst in the country for the number of people with Associate's Degrees and college experience.

The conflicting data offers an interesting look into the dynamics of education at the grade school and college level in the heart of Acadiana.

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The numbers are based on the latest WalletHub report, 2023’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America, in which Lafayette ranks No. 132 out of 150 metro areas. However, there are numbers in there that Lafayette can point to as a sign of hope.

UL-Lafayette Facebook
Credit: UL-Lafayette/Facebook

Quality of Education in Lafayette

The good news for Lafayette is that our students do an amazing amount of work in our education system. The city ranks No. 15 out of 150 in the country, according to the WalletHub measurement, when it comes to "Quality of Education & Attainment Gap."

According to their methodology, they measured the category using the following metrics.

  • Quality of Public School System
  • Average Quality of Universities
  • Enrolled Students in Top 913 Universities per Capita
  • Number of Summer Learning Opportunities per Capita
  • Racial Education Gap
  • Gender Education Gap
  • Education Equality Index Score

That bodes well for Lafayette, one of the most successful school districts in the state and a district that saw growth in test scores while much of the nation saw scores fall in the wake of COVID-19.

Educational Attainment

Where Lafayette struggles, according to the study, is educational achievement. According to the metrics they used in determining that score, Lafayette is among the worst in the country, tied at 136 out of 150.

What's more, "Educational Attainment" carried more weight in the final analysis.

  • Share of Adults Aged 25 & Older with a High School Diploma or Higher
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 & Older with at Least Some College Experience or an Associate's Degree or Higher
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 & Older with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 & Older with a Graduate or Professional Degree

When it comes to cities with people who have college experience or an Associate's Degree, Lafayette is tied for 145 out of 150.

  • T-145. Lafayette, LA
  • T-145. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
  • 147. Bakersfield, CA
  • 148. Visalia, CA
  • 149. Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
  • 150. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX

What Could Cause It?

Louisiana as a whole has a problem with out-migration, meaning that more people are leaving the state rather than coming in. So, while our education system for grade school and higher education might be stellar, those students may end up leaving Lafayette for better opportunities.

The Louisiana Illuminator looked at the out-migration data in a story back in June.

Indeed, from 2005 to 2020, Louisiana’s largest population centers lost a net 317,000 residents, many of whom were young and college-educated, new migration data shows.

Although LSU brings significant numbers of young people to Baton Rouge, the city has trouble keeping them. Over the 15-year period, Baton Rouge gained 17,809 residents under 25. But in the next age cohort — 25 to 34 — it lost a net 496. The city also lost a net 13,861 college degree holders.

What's more, a study here at the University of Louisiana confirmed those fears.

New data collected by University of Louisiana at Lafayette economist Gary Wagner brings insights into how Louisiana’s nine largest metropolitan areas fared in attracting and retaining talent.

The data reflects net migration between Louisiana’s largest, urban population centers and all other states, but excludes the more rural parts of Louisiana.

The new data confirms trends that have long been known: Louisiana is a net exporter of young, college-educated individuals; and the biggest attractions for Louisiana expats are Texas and other Southern states.

Despite the dour numbers when it comes to education achievement, the success of the local school system does fuel hope. How Lafayette responds to numbers like this will be key to trying to improve those numbers, however.

The Rest of the State

When it comes to metropolitan centers in the U.S., every Louisiana city on the list was in the bottom half. Lafayette came in the lowest at 132nd. Here are the rest:

  • New Orleans-Metairie: 97th
  • Baton Rouge: 115th
  • Shreveport-Bossier City: 128th

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