California, like most affluent states, has some of the best----and some of the worst----schools in the country. Unfortunately, the best schools are in very affluent areas. How you are going to rate education as a factor depends on what you are looking for---if you want a place that has (on average) better schools for most of its population----or has, in general, a very educated population---then California is going to dragged down by the numbers of its population that live in areas with not very good schools.
This kind of metric would make sense for a young person just starting a family who can't afford to live in an affluent area---but it wouldn't mean that a place like California doesn't have some good schools.
But I also think you are asking the wrong question. How do US students rank against students from other countries? The Pew research (2017) places 15 year olds very far from the top---4th graders did a bit better---but we still are not at the very top. I also think it is far more complicated to educate 15 year olds than 4th graders. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/
Here are the basic conclusions of the report:
How do U.S. students compare with their peers around the world? Recently released data from international math and science assessments indicate that U.S. students continue to rank around the middle of the pack, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.
One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
Younger American students fare somewhat better on a similar cross-national assessment, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. That study, known as TIMSS, has tested students in grades four and eight every four years since 1995. In the most recent tests, from 2015, 10 countries (out of 48 total) had statistically higher average fourth-grade math scores than the U.S., while seven countries had higher average science scores. In the eighth-grade tests, seven out of 37 countries had statistically higher average math scores than the U.S., and seven had higher science scores.
I'm sure there are other statistics that one could cite, but our rankings have been slipping for decades, it's not a recent trend.
The truth is that there are countries who value their teachers, compensate them accordingly----the US doesn't do that. Think about the difference between the US and Asian countries that follow a Confucian policy that honors teachers---it makes a very dramatic difference in terms of the quality of teachers that are attracted to the profession. Even if you take the kids in the highest ranking states, they aren't going to test better than those kids from Asian and European countries that put a greater premium on education than we do. Look at world surveys about which countries test best in math, sciences, etc---the US hasn't topped those kind of lists for decades. In the US, you would have to either be very dedicated or not very bright to accept the kind of salaries and benefits that are given to teachers---always the very bottom of the pay scales in every survey I have ever seen. And this isnt going to change anytime soon---that is the real story.
There is no way for the United States to stay ahead of the world in terms of business if our education system isn't capable of supplying the labor force that we need to lead the world in business.
Here is a chart for 15 year olds in the Pew Report that compares our schools to the rest of the world----sad!.
If you want high performing schools in North America, you are probably going to be forced to relocate to a very affluent area. If you want a country that, in general, has good schools in North America, however, my advice is: Move to Canada. (Song starts up in the background "Oh, Canada . . ."). Although one problem is that the large cities in Canada with superior schools are even pricier than the Bay Area and Silicon Valley---so no cheap solutions there.
One way to think about these result (the chart below): America's score on math at 470 is below the average, significantly below the Russian Federation (495). In reading, America scores at 497---just above the Russian Federation at 495 (within the margin for error, I am sure). In science, America scores just above the average at 496---the Russian Federation scores at 487. The fact that America is roughly on a par with a country whose economy is in shambles in terms of education----is the real message. Basically, America is beating the (mostly) 3rd world and developing countries that rank below it---even though it is considered an industrial powerhouse. Show me another country with this powerful an economy whose education system is so markedly inferior.
If one looks at the major Allies who won World War 2 (UK, US and Russia), they are all have a (roughly) average ranking, not at all close to the top---their educational rankings have been slipping for decades, basically. However, there is still an upside hre. California still requires job with superior students---and at least our colleges haven't declined to the same extent---and California as a state has a GDP that makes it a top 10 economy in the world.
So, where is your solution for this?
We need these immigrants. I.e., Elon Musk is from South Africa, Sergey Brin (of Google) is from Moscow, etc. Are there any companies more American than Tesla or Google (Alphabet)? America has multiple times more immigrants with patents (194,600) than any other nation.
Is that going to continue to be true?