school bus _lowres

Advocate file photo

Just a week before many schools re-open their doors, a new report says Louisiana has the worst public school system in the nation.

The review was done by WalletHub, a personal finance website best  known for offering credit scores.

The three-year-old firm in Washington, D. C. also does research on education, health and other  topics.

The study focused on 17 metrics, then ranked state education systems from best to worst .

Massachusetts finished tops in the nation.

Louisiana, which often ranks near  the bottom in national surveys of academic achievement, finished last .

Students here ranked 48th in math; 48th in reading; 45th in the dropout rate and 47th in average ACT scores, a measure of college readiness.

Also, the state finished 30th in student/teacher  ratios;  33rd in school safety and 37th in its percentage of licensed/certified teachers for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

States were scored on a 100-point scale. 

Louisiana's tally was 30.33. Massachusetts' was 73.65.

The state's latest push to improve academic achievement began in 1999.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

In addition, Louisiana's measuring sticks for key education indicators often rank among the tops in the nation.

State Superintendent of Education John White was in Houma  on Monday for a forum on how the state plans to change its education policies to comply with a new federal law.

In a prepared statement, Barry Landry, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said while students in Louisiana have made tremendous progress "we must acknowledge that this (report) is unacceptable for our students and their families, highlighting the 

need to continue raising expectations to give our children the education they deserve.

"Our plan is working, as evidenced by our 4th grade students achieving the highest growth among all states on the 2015 NAEP reading test and second highest growth in math."

He added, "Additionally, the graduation rate is at an all-time high, ACT performance has increased for a third straight year and students showed greater annual improvement on Advanced Placement in 2015 than in any state other than Massachusetts."

NAEP is known as the nation's report card and measures skills on key subjects.

Advanced Placement allows high school students to earn college credit.

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said Monday the state's ranking stems in part from funding and funding equity problems but things are also improving.

"Obviously Louisiana has been at the bottom of the heap for a very long time." Meaux said.

Brigitte Nieland, who follows public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, noted that while students here have made progress on ACT scores and other areas so have other states.

"Studies such as this one continue to illustrate the need and the urgency for aggressive public education reforms and other educational options that provide choices for students and families," Nieland said in an email.

To see the full report click

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.