Congratulations, New Jersey school leaders, educators and students! The Garden State’s public schools rank Number One in the nation in the annual “Quality Counts” report card, issued Sept. 3 by the Education Week Research Center.

In Education Week’s 23rd annual ranking, New Jersey schools earned the top honor, for the first time, with an overall rating of 87.8, a few hundredths of a percentage point ahead of Massachusetts, which has finished at the top in recent years. New Jersey has consistently placed second.

“The report is another indicator of the hard work and commitment of our state’s school board members, educators, parents and students,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “It’s well-deserved recognition and wonderful news to hear at the start of a new school year.”

Education Week gave New Jersey excellent grades for its commitment to funding public schools, as well as dedication to improving achievement in impoverished neighborhoods and pre-school education. The state ranked high in overall K-12 achievement, placing second only to Massachusetts. New Jersey students consistently register high levels of achievement when measured through other factors, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.