BALTIMORE -- A leading education newspaper has ranked Maryland's public schools as the nation's best, while the District of Columbia ranked last.
Maryland gets the best grades in Education Week's annual "Quality Counts" report, which was released Wednesday. Last year, Maryland ranked third, but this is the first time the state has reached the top of the rankings. Massachusetts was rated slightly behind Maryland this year.
“Now is more important than ever, even in these difficult times, to continue to protect our investments in public education to ensure that every child receives a world class education and a better future," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "The people of Maryland are our greatest asset and our continued economic strength depends upon our ability to invest in them, and prepare our children today for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Maryland was one of four states to receive an overall grade of B, but had the highest overall score (84.7). Massachusetts was second at 84.6, followed by New York at 84.1 and Virginia at 83.2.
The District had a D+ grade and a score of 68.3, lowest of all scores. Three states also received D+ ratings: Mississippi (69.4), Idaho (69.1) and Nevada (68.8).
The ranking is based on student performance, graduation rates and statewide accountability and standards, among other factors. Maryland students were singled out in part for their high scores on Advanced Placement exams.
State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick said the report reflects Maryland's "long-term commitment to high standards and collaboration."