I don’t put a lot of credibility in state rankings, except to the extent that it shows state officials where they need to make improvements. I have a hard time imagining any family saying, “Hey, I just saw this ranking of states. Let’s move from Mississippi to New Jersey.”

And then there is the problem of conflicting rankings. The states that Michelle Rhee ranked among the best came in poorly in the Wallethub survey. Move to Louisiana if you believe Rhee, but move to New Jersey if you believe Wallethub.

Wallethub is a financial services company that ranks stuff. In this survey, they took 12 factors into account, such as dropout rates, test scores, pupil/teacher ratios, bullying incidents, percentage of population over 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The survey counts the availability of online public schools as a plus, but this is an instance where greater discrimination is needed to draw a line between genuine online public schools and get-rich-quick online scams.

The reason that surveys like this fall short is that there are good and not-good schools in every state. The reason that a survey like this is valuable is that the State Commissioner of Vermont Rebecca Holcombe could point to Vermont as the third best state in the nation on the Wallethub survey, as a way to resist the pressure from Washington to declare every school in Vermont a low-performing school.

I bet there are many excellent schools in states that fall at the bottom of anyone’s rating.