Academic Achievement

Student performance in Utah is middling. The state hovers around the national average in the percentage of 4th and 8th graders at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading and math exams.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Utah earns a mediocre grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Only 16% of Hispanic 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam—10 percentage points below the national average. Because the state does not have a large enough African-American student population to meet NAEP sampling requirements, Utah’s grade is based solely on low-income and Hispanic students. 

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Utah is very high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living.

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency 

Utah posts an average mark on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Utah earns a middling grade preparing its students for college and careers, with 25 students out of 100 passing an AP exam, but its graduation rate falls below the national average.

21st Century Teacher Force

Utah does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The state struggles to deliver well-prepared teachers but performs better in retaining effective teachers and exiting ineffective ones.

Parental Options

Utah does a good job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state’s charter school law is strong, and the Beehive State is one of the national leaders in creating online options for students.

Data Quality

Utah earns a good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. Although the state does not fund a longitudinal data system, it provides parents with access to data on their children’s academic performance and links student performance data with teacher data.


Utah receives an excellent grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning—making it a national exemplar in this category. Students have access to an array of high-quality digital learning options, and funding follows the student, enabling more to enroll with an online provider.

International Competitiveness

Utah earns a mediocre grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with 31% of students proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard. 

Fiscal Responsibility

Utah receives high marks on fiscal responsibility. Seventy-six percent of the state’s pension is funded, and its most recent contribution was 100%.