A C+ might not seem all that impressive, but Minnesota fared better than most states in an annual report card issued this week by Education Week magazine.
The state was 11th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in rankings based on three categories: K-12 achievement, school finance and "chance for success," which examines the link between education and outcomes from early childhood into adulthood.
The nation as a whole received a grade of C.
The Education Week report was its 21st and comes as states determine how to judge which schools are doing well and which need help under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind. Minnesota expects to submit its draft plan to the U.S. Education Department in September, and to begin identifying schools in need of improvement in 2018-19.
Minnesota earned a C and a sixth-place ranking in K-12 achievement, which takes into account reading and math performance, and high school graduation rates, among other factors. But that part of the Education Week assessment dates to 2016; it was not updated for this year's report.
The state earned its highest mark -- an A and a third-place ranking -- for its work in "early foundations," which falls in the "chance for success" category. Early foundations examines factors that help children get off to a good start in their learning. In recent years, Minnesota has set aside additional funding to open up preschool opportunities to more of its 4-year-olds.
Like the nation as a whole, Minnesota finished with a letter grade of D in the spending category, which includes per-pupil expenditures. Twenty other states spent more than Minnesota's $12,278 per student, according to the magazine's analysis, which was based on 2014 spending data.
But how much a state spends per student did not guarantee a strong finish overall in the rankings.
Vermont, which spent $19,654 per pupil, the most of any state, earned an overall grade of B, good for a third-place finish. But Alaska, which was second in per-pupil spending at $19,000 per student, scored a C. Massachusetts, which for the third straight year took first place in the overall rankings, spent $14,081 per pupil in 2014, the report shows.