Education Week ranks Maryland schools No. 1, Virginia schools No. 4

For the fifth year in a row, Maryland schools ranked number one in Education Week's annual ranking of the nation's school systems. Virginia's schools came in fourth.

Maryland received an overall B-plus and a score of 87.5 in the magazine's "Quality Counts 2013" report released Thursday.

Waving blue foam fingers in the air, students at Jones Elementary School celebrated the blue ribbon school ranking

"Give yourselves a round of applause!," Gov. Martin O’Malley said to the crowd.

O'Malley said the school system is flourishing becase education funding has been a top priority.

"The people of our state not only understand the connection between education and economic growth, but have made the tough decisions that allowed us to invest in our children's education - even while we've cut everything else," O'Malley said.

The proof is in the test scores. Maryland students excel in math and reading from elementary school to middle school. High school students ranked number one this year in AP scores.

O'Malley added, "The more you learn, the stronger and more educated you make yourself. The stronger you make your community."

It's an idea echoed by parent Jessica Farrar, who picked her neighborhood based on schools.

Farrar said, "It's not just academic. Everybody has a focus, every student has a talent and part of the school system is finding what those talents [are[ and having exposure to different opportunities."

O'Malley said a range of programs, like vocational training and college-level classes, help Maryland students edge out the rest.

Virginia received an overall B with a score of 82.9 in Education Week's ranking.

The national grade was a C-plus.

The annual report graded the states and the District of Columbia in six areas of policy and performance.

Maryland received As in Transitions and Alignments, and a B-plus in standards, assessments and accountability, as well as chance for success.

Virginia received an A in standards, assessments and accountability. The report gave the state a B in transitions and alignment, which includes early childhood education.

Virginia also received a B in chance for success, a B- in the teaching professions, a C-plus in school finance and a C in student achievement.

Gov. Bob McDonnell says Virginia must continue efforts to ensure that all students are prepared for the jobs of the future.

The District of Columbia ranked 45th.

To see every state's report card, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.