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California's 6 million-student public education system receives high marks for setting high academic standards but very low grades for meeting those standards and school finance in the latest national rankings by Education Week magazine.

Overall, the state receives a "C grade for its public schools with a mark of 76.1 on the 1-100 scale, slightly below the nation as a whole. For the fourth year in a row, Maryland's schools came out on top at 87.8 while South Dakota came in last with 68.1.

The magazine rates states' schools on six criteria - chances for successes, K-12 achievement, standards and assessments, teaching profession improvement, finance and preparing students for work or college. California received an "A" grade for standards and assessments, a "B" for preparing students, a "C" in chances for success, teaching profession improvement and finance, and a "D" in K-12 achievement.

School finance is the area that draws the most political attention, and in that, Education Week says California does well in equalizing support among schools, with a "B-plus," but is given an "F" for spending, reflecting the state's relatively low level of per-pupil support from state and local taxes.

The state's schools have lost billions of dollars in state aid due to chronic budget deficits and are likely to see more cuts this year, but Gov. Jerry Brown has also proposed an overhaul of how aid is allocated, eliminating many "categorical aid" programs and creating a simpler method that gives more aid to schools with poor and/or low-performing students.



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