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Florida was just named the best education state in the nation. Here’s how.

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In its annual ranking of the nation’s “best states,” U.S. News and World Report gave Florida a noteworthy distinction: the top state for education.

Calling Florida the state with the best educational opportunities may have been surprising to many, as the state has been riven in recent years by debates over book bans, teacher pay and diversity initiatives on college campuses.

But the Sunshine State nonetheless won the top education spot in the national magazine’s ranking, just as it did last year.

Based on No. 1 rankings in both education and the economy, Florida rose to the No. 9 spot on U.S. News’ overall list of “best states.”

More: Florida was just named one of the nation’s Top 10 ‘best states’ by U.S. News. Here’s why.

So how did it claim the top education spot?

Primarily thanks to the strength of its colleges and universities.

U.S. News based its education rankings on a series of statistics measuring the performance of each state’s preK-12 schools and institutions of higher education.

Florida’s preK-12 schools performed well based on the metrics the magazine uses, ranking at No. 10 nationwide. The magazine examined each state’s preschool enrollment rate, high school graduation rate, middle school reading and math test scores, and how well high school students do on the SAT and similar college-admissions tests.

But where the state shined was in the realm of higher education, where Florida topped the nation in the magazine’s ranking.

In calling Florida the best state for higher education, U.S. News examined each state’s college graduation rates, the cost of in-state tuition, the average amount of student debt held by the state’s young adults and the percentage of residents with advanced degrees.

Overall, Florida scored highest in the nation under those metrics. (Read the complete education rankings here.)

With its No. 1 ranking in the higher education realm and No. 10 ranking in preK-12, Florida managed to take the top spot for education overall.

Here are U.S. News’ top 10 states for education:

  1. Florida
  2. Utah
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New Jersey
  5. Colorado
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Wyoming
  8. Connecticut
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Virginia

Andrew Marra is a reporter at The Palm Beach Post. Reach him at amarra@pbpost.com.

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