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Education report card gives state an A, two C's

Florida got one high grade and two average ones in an annual report card compiled for the 50 states by Education Week.

The publication decided this year not to issue a letter grade in a fourth area, school funding, but instead listed a ranking on a per pupil measurement that had Florida near the bottom.

Florida ranked 47th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending in 2001-02, the latest year for which data are available for national comparison.

Adjusted for regional cost differences, Florida spent just less than $6,500 per student, about $1,200 less than the U.S. average.

Education Week gave Florida and 11 other states an A grade for standards and accountability. It gave Florida C's for efforts to improve teacher quality and for school climate, which includes measures ranging from absenteeism to physical conflicts to classroom and school size.

Last year, Florida received an A in standards and accountability, a C-plus in teacher quality, a C in school climate and a D-plus in school spending.

Education Commissioner John Winn said Florida got its best mark in the most important area.

The high standards and accountability grade "has been the basis for the remarkable student improvement that we've got in Florida," Winn said.

Regarding Florida's low ranking in per pupil spending, he said: "It's more about how you use your money than it is about the total amount of money."