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New England States Top the Charts, Studies Find.

Where can you raise a happy, healthy child who will succeed in school? For the best odds, move to Maine. The Children's Rights Council (CRC), a nonprofit children's advocacy group, released its annual ranking of the best states to raise children in July. The organization named Maine No. 1 according to data compiled in 10 categories. It was good news all around for New England as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire rounded out the top five.

The results weren't as favorable for the South and Southwest with California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana holding the bottom five rankings. Washington, D.C., ranked 51st for the third year in a row.

The CRC's rankings closely correspond to national student assessment data. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an arm of the Office for Educational Research and Improvement, compiles annual assessment findings in different subject areas across the states. Last year's highest scoring state in reading--with only 16 percent of eighth graders below basic reading levels was--which one? That's right--Maine. The No. 3 state, with 18 percent, also was CRC's third-ranked state, Connecticut.

Heading further south in geography, some states' scores go in the same direction. Of the 36 states where 1998 reading assessment data was available, Alabama and Delaware tied for 29th, South Carolina and Florida tied for 31st, Louisiana and California tied for 33rd and Mississippi came in 35th.

The story was the same when NAEP assessed the nation's eighth-grade students in science in 1996. Of the 41 states where science assessment data was provided, Maine ranked first, tied with North Dakota. North Dakota was ranked as the sixth best state to raise children by the CRC. Mississippi and the nation's capital ranked 40th and 41st, respectively, in science assessment. Eighty-one percent of the Washington, D.C.'s eighth-graders were below basic levels in science, a dreary comparison to Maine and North Dakota's 16 percent.

When ranking the best states to raise children, one of the factors the CRC assessed was states' high school dropout rates. New England states were superior in this category, with all five of the top states having a seven percent or lower dropout rate. Arizona ranked worst here, with 16 percent of its students dropping out of high school. Texas was close behind with a 13 percent dropout rate.

To see the CRC's complete report, go to To see how other states measured up in NAEP's student assessment, visit

Here are the best and worst states to raise a child, according to the CRC's 1999 study.

The top five states:

1. Maine

2. Massachusetts

3. Connecticut

4. Vermont

5. New Hampshire

The bottom five states:

46. California

47. Arizona

48. Texas

49. New Mexico

50. Louisiana

Of the 36 states the NAEP assessed, here are the states that scored highest and lowest on reading tests.

The top five states:

1. (tie) Maine, North Dakota

2. Montana

3. Connecticut

4. Kansas

5. (tie) Massachusetts, Oklahoma

The bottom five states:

29. (tie)Alabama, Delaware

31. (tie) South Carolina, Florida

33. (tie) Louisiana, California

35. Mississippi

36. Hawaii
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1999
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