The respected periodical Education Week recently issued the 19th edition of Quality Counts, its annual report on state-level efforts to improve public education, and once again New Jersey ranks near the top of the nation.

This year, the Garden State finished second with a grade of B and a score of 85.5. (Massachusetts scored first with a grade of B and a score of 86.2; Maryland and Vermont were ranked immediately below New Jersey.)

At the low end of the ranking scale, the District of Columbia and Mississippi received grades of F.

The “State of the States” grading uses three indices to rank states, including a “Chance for Success” index that provides a perspective on the role that education plays in promoting positive outcomes throughout a lifetime. The school finance analysis gauges spending patterns and equity, and the K-12 Achievement Index rates states on current academic performance, change over time, and poverty-based gaps.

New Jersey finished third in the nation for the K-12 Achievement Index with a grade of B-minus, while it earned a B-plus in the Chance for Success category, and ranked third; and a B-plus and a ranking of fifth in school finance.

The nation as a whole receives an overall grade of C and a score of 74.3 out of 100 in Quality Counts 2015.

This year’s report also focused on early-childhood education as its theme, and issued grades for a new “Early Education Index.” New Jersey ranked 14th in the nation with a grade of C minus on the index, which looked at eight factors, including preschool enrollment, preschool poverty-gap change, and percentage of students in full-day kindergarten.

The full report is available online.

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