State Education Rankings: The Best And Worst For Math And Science

07/11/2011 09:43 am ET | Updated Oct 01, 2012

In recently released rankings of how states' primary education systems are preparing students for careers in engineering, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey top the list. Mississippi trails as the worst in the country, following West Virginia and Louisiana.

The Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI) measures how high school students are performing in physics and calculus -- based on publicly available data, including Advanced Placement scores, National Assessment of Educational Progress reports, teacher certification requirements by state and physics class enrollment data.

The SERI was developed by Susan Wite from the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics and physicist Paul Cottle of Florida State University.

The SERI score given to each state is on a scale of 1 to 5 and reflects how well states perform and allow opportunities for success in physics and math education and teacher qualifications.

The numbers below reveal that few states are performing at high levels, and most are poorly preparing students for science, technology and engineering.

According to a statement last week, Cottle said that although the SERI scores do not compare states to schools' performances in other countries, even the American leader -- Massachusetts -- would struggle to compete with countries like China or Singapore.

For years, the U.S. has lagged behind other countries in math and science. A 2009 study showed that American students ranked 25th among 34 countries, behind nations like China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Finland.

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