For the second consecutive year, Louisiana ranks 49th nationally in academic achievement by public school students, according to a national report released Thursday.

The results are among the highlights of the 20th edition of Quality Counts, which is compiled by Education Week magazine.

The study focuses on several areas, including classroom performance, in coming up with grades for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Louisiana ranks 44th overall with a score of 68.7 points out of 100, a D-plus.

The academic achievement part of the review is based on how students fared in 18 measures on math and reading, high school graduation rates and Advanced Placement exams, which allow high school students to earn college credit.

As often happens, students here fared among the lowest in the nation last year on tests called the nation’s report card.

They ranked 47th for fourth-grade math proficiency; 47th for fourth-grade reading; 50th in eighth-grade math and 48th in eighth-grade reading.

The state finished ahead of only New Mexico and Mississippi.

The top state is Massachusetts, the only one to earn an A in academic achievement.

Louisiana received a D.

The national average is C-minus.

In a prepared statement, state Superintendent of Education John White said the state ranked second nationally on gains by fourth-graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the past two years.

White also noted that Louisiana’s high school graduation rate — 74.6 percent — is at an all-time high.

The national average is 82 percent.

The state also ranks second nationally for fourth-graders on NAEP gains in reading between 2003 and 2015 and 12th in improvements by fourth-graders in math during the same period.

Officials said there are other signs that Louisiana is improving faster than the rest of the nation.

“At the same time, there is a long way to go,” White said. “Despite progress, we are still ranked 47th in fourth-grade reading proficiency on NAEP, 50th in eighth-grade math proficiency and 46th in graduation rate.”

Academic achievement is one of three categories used to rate states.

In other areas, the state ranks 48th in students’ chances for success, such as family income, parents’ education, prekindergarten enrollment and other factors.

Nearly half of children live in families that meet the definition of poverty.

That grade is C-minus.

Louisiana is listed as 25th in school finance, which includes spending per student.

That grade is a C.

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