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Top Smartest US States - Methodology: The Smartest State designation is awarded on the basis of 21 factors selected from Morgan Quitno's annual reference book, Education State Rankings, 2006–2007. Rates for each of the 21 factors were processed through a formula that measures how a state compares to the national average for a given category. The end result is that the farther below the national average a state’s education ranking is, the lower (and less smart) it ranks. The farther above the national average, the higher (and smarter) a state ranks.