By Mike Hellgren

SEVERNA PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The grades are in for Maryland public schools. The school is ranked number one in the nation for the fifth straight year.

Mike Hellgren explains why Maryland is on top again this year.

Maryland does very well when it comes to funding the educational system and student performance, but there are some areas that need improvement, including inequality among some schools.

At a planned press event, Governor Martin O’Malley touted Maryland’s five years with the top grade from the nonprofit Maryland-based newspaper Education Week. The national average is a C-plus. Education Week gave Maryland a B-plus.

“Maryland public schools have been named for the fifth year in a row number one public schools in America!” said O’Malley.

The survey covers everything from funding to performance.

“When people move to the D.C., the Baltimore area, they choose to come to Maryland for our public schools and we’re very pleased about that,” said Jessica Farrar of Jones Elementary PTA.

Maryland’s top rankings were in standards, early foundations and college readiness. The state’s lowest marks came in assessments, the accountability of teacher quality and equity.

“I don’t think a student’s education should be based on their zip code. It’s also equally important to make sure that every school has the resources to allow the children to get the kind of education they need to have to be successful,” said Betty Weller, president of the State Education Association.

Big challenges remain ahead. Baltimore City is working to improve dilapidated school buildings and Maryland saw several high-profile instances of violence last year, including a shooting at Perry Hall High School and an eighth-grader who brought a gun to a Baltimore County middle school, where a teacher wrestled it away.

The governor addressed security with WJZ.

“All of us are looking at the standards in place and the practices that we have in place at our public schools with the view toward doing everything we can to improve those,” said O’Malley.

Maryland plans to revamp curriculum and testing and more closely tied teacher evaluations with student performance, which should ensure a top spot at or near the top of the class.

There’s  major changes ahead, particularly in curriculum that should make Maryland more globally competitive but still there was plenty to cheer about.

Massachusetts ranked second best and Idaho ranked lowest.


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