Maryland's schools rank first in the nation in an analysis of factors such as high school graduation rates, student achievement, academic standards and accountability done by Education Week, a publication based in Bethesda.
Maryland, ranked third last year, edged out Massachusetts by one-tenth of 1 percent. Both states were given a B grade overall, but the national average was a C. Maryland scored well on the standards for early childhood education and preparing students for college.
The report is likely to be widely quoted in the next year by state officials, particularly Gov. Martin O'Malley and Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. They have noted previous reports as evidence that Maryland has been moving in the right direction by providing more than $1.3 billion annually in funding over the past several years as well as requiring high-stakes testing at the high school level.
The state received A and B grades for establishing financial equity among school districts and B's for student achievement from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"School reform doesn't happen overnight. It takes a long-term commitment to high standards and collaboration, always keeping in mind the students and the families we serve," said Grasmick in a statement. She said the report affirms Maryland's "status as one of the nation's most desirable places to live, work and raise a family."
The state's worst scores came for its failure to support beginning teachers. Maryland does not fund mentoring programs or give funds to reduce the workloads of first-year teachers.
In addition, the state does not require school districts to set aside time for teachers to receive additional training. Maryland also got low grades for teacher salaries and incentives.