Louisiana got a D-plus — 44th nationally — in the latest rankings on public education released Thursday by Education Week magazine.

The report, called Quality Counts, marks the 19th such study by the magazine, which is widely read for its in-depth look at education issues.

The results are similar or slightly better than in previous years, with the state persistently ranking near the bottom nationally in how students fare in the classroom despite a push for improvements that began in 2000.

Massachusetts was rated tops in the nation and received a B-plus.

States that trailed Louisiana, in order, were Alabama, Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi.

In a change from previous years, this year’s snapshot focused on three key areas: academic achievement from kindergarten through 12th grade, chances for success for children, and equity and spending on public schools.

Louisiana received a D-minus for academic achievement, a C-minus for chances for success and a C in its education spending practices.

Those were good for 49th, 48th and 19th nationally, respectively.

The much-watched grade for academic achievement — D-minus — is 49th in the nation, the same grade and ranking as last year.

Louisiana got an F for the three previous years in the same category.

The state ranks:

  • 50th in fourth-grade math proficiency
  • 48th in fourth-grade reading
  • 49th in eighth-grade math proficiency
  • 48th in eighth-grade reading.

However, the state was rated fourth nationally — B-minus — in early childhood education, which is undergoing a statewide makeover because of a 2012 law pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Nearly three-fourths of eligible preschool students attend all-day programs, which is second in the nation.

Louisiana also ranked second in the U.S. in the percentage of students who attend full-day kindergarten and seventh nationally in the percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty who were enrolled in Head Start.

In a prepared statement, state Superintendent of Education John White said improving education outcomes is his department’s top priority, and he noted the gains in early childhood education.

“We’ve made great progress, but we will not stop until Louisiana has the best education system in the country,” White said.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.