How to Use

What's the purpose of the webtool?

This webtool is intended to help students, educators, employers, and policymakers make more informed decisions about careers, curriculum, and public policy. Here are examples of how to make the most of this tool.

Students | Educators | Employers | Policymakers

Suppose a policymaker from Merced, CA, wants to compare educational attainment in his area to that in other U.S. metros to determine whether to invest more in education and in which policy area.

  • Step 1. Click the "Overall Rankings" tab on the home page. The list of metros defaults to year "2010" and "average years of schooling." Note Merced's position.
  • Step 2. Under "Select Degree," pick "at least a high school diploma (or equivalent)," then click "Submit." Note Merced's position.
  • Step 3. Select the year "1990" or "2000," then click "Submit" to compare 2010 to other years.


What's it mean? The policymaker will see that Merced's average schooling in 2010 was 12.2 years, about 11 percent below the national average. Moreover, only 75 percent of its workers had at least a high school diploma. Comparing educational levels since 1990, the official will find that the metro's share of high school graduates has not only declined but also has fallen further behind the national average. The policymaker could then deploy strategies to boost investment in regional education with the aim of preventing high school dropouts and encouraging less-educated workers to obtain General Educational Development (GED) certificates.

Suppose the policymaker wants to see how policy has affected professional development for primary school teachers in Columbus, OH.

  • Step 1. Click the "Compare" tab, and then "Trends (Large Metros)"
  • Step 2. Select "Primary School Teachers" and "Columbus, OH" from the drop-down menus, and then click "Submit."

What's it mean? The policymaker would find that the percentage of Columbus primary school teachers with at least a master's degree has almost doubled since 1990. This demonstrates the impact of Ohio's requirement (before 2011) that teachers must earn a master's degree to renew their professional license. This information could also help educators determine whether the policy has contributed to improving students' academic performance.

Note to users: The education statistics presented in this webtool are computed from the Census Bureau's Public-Use Microdata Samples and are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors. We provide the margin of error for users to gauge the reliability of each statistic. For further information, see FAQ: What is a margin of error (MOE)? Why should I be concerned when reading metro rankings?