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Top Education Magazine Releases Annual State Rankings

Massachusetts remains the best state in the union when it comes to K-12 education and Mississippi ranks last, according to an annual set of ratings released by leading educational magazine Education Week.

The magazine’s Quality Counts ratings evaluate states on a 100-point scale and uses that score to give them a letter grade.

The United States as a whole had a score of 74.3, good enough for a C. Massachusetts scored an 86.2, which earned it a B grade that was still enough to beat out every other state. Coming up behind Massachusetts were New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Mississippi, on the other hand, finished dead last, with its 64.2 grade — a D.

Finishing just ahead of the Magnolia State were Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona.

The ratings are premised on three major components: K-12 achievement (how well students perform and how quickly they are improving), school finance (how much and how equally-spread school funding is) and chance for success (how well-positioned children are to succeed long-term in life). The formula has changed substantially from 2013, the last year grades were issued, in an attempt to put a greater focus on overall outcomes instead of inputs.

In general, the ratings are favorable to wealthier states, which have an easier time spending more on education and also have lower child poverty rates (a major component of the chance for success score).

The 2015 ratings also, for the first time ever, evaluated states based on their success putting younger children into preschool. Here, some states doing poorly overall drastically improved, as Mississippi and Louisiana finished in the top five thanks to particularly high numbers of children attending all-day preschool programs. First place in the category went to the District of Columbia, which has an ambitious universal pre-K program no state has endeavored to match.

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