FARGO – Nearly nine out of 10 North Dakotans rate the state’s public kindergarten through 12th-grade education system as excellent or good – the highest rating in the nation.

Eighty-seven percent of North Dakotans gave the quality of K-12 education in the state positive marks in a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The public school systems in Iowa (83 percent), Minnesota (81 percent) and South Dakota and Nebraska (80 percent) trailed North Dakota closely in the poll.

Schools in the South and West fared much more poorly in the eyes of residents. New Mexico had the lowest ratings of public K-12 education at 41 percent.

People polled in states that ranked their K-12 education the highest also said their public schools prepared students for success in the workplace.

South Dakota led in that area at 83 percent, followed by North Dakota (82 percent), Iowa (81 percent), Nebraska (79 percent) and Minnesota (76 percent).

According to Gallup, unemployment rates were under 5 percent in the states that did best in both rankings, including North and South Dakota.

The poll was conducted between June and December with a random sample of about 600 adults living in each of the 50 states. The margin of error was 5 percentage points.