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Report: South Dakota earns C-minus in education performance

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

The grades are in, and it's not looking great for South Dakota — or the nation.

Education Week recently released its annual Quality Counts report, which grades each state on its overall performance in education. South Dakota earned a C-minus on the state report card, garnering a ranking of 39th in the nation. The country as a whole posts a grade of a C.

"Like every state, South Dakota has strengths and weaknesses across the 39 indicators included in the grading, but its overall C-minus grade indicates there is considerable room for improvement," said Sterling Lloyd, assistant director of the Education Week Research Center.

Lloyd continued to say that a majority of states receive grades between a C-minus and a C-plus, which "raise concerns about the preparation that students are getting for college and careers."

The overall C-minus grade is the average of South Dakota's scores on three separate indicators by Education Week. The first indicator is the chance for success category, in which South Dakota earned a B-minus and 25th in the U.S. The average state garners a C-plus ranking in the chance for success category, which studies how education in South Dakota plays a role in "promoting positive outcomes across an individual's lifetime."

This is an improvement from a year ago, Lloyd said, as South Dakota made "positive steps" in preschool enrollment and postsecondary participation.

In school finance, South Dakota found itself with a D-plus, ranking 42nd. This is unchanged from the 2016 report. The school finance analysis examines aspects of school spending. The average state earns a C in this analysis, the report stated.

The third category, the K-12 achievement index, gave South Dakota a D, placing it 44th in the country — also unchanged from 2016. The index examines achievement measures relating to reading and math performance, graduation rates and the results of advanced placement exams. The average state earns a C-minus in the index.

Compared to its neighbors, South Dakota ranked the lowest. Wyoming placed seventh in the report, while Minnesota earned 10th. North Dakota took 15th, Iowa placed 17th and Nebraska finished with 19th, according to Lloyd.

Lloyd said the report is released every year to provide the public with information that can be used to compare educational performance state to state. The evaluation can help policymakers evaluate their state's strengths and weaknesses, he said.

"It's a vital tool in building better schools for our nation's students," Lloyd said.

The South Dakota Department of Education was contacted for comment, but did not provide any at this time.