Massachusetts ranks first in the nation when it comes to serving black students at public colleges, according to a new report by the Center on Race and Equity at the University of Southern California.

Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago said serving black students is a matter of providing the right assistance.

“It’s making the students feel welcome. It’s providing them the academic support services. It’s ensuring that the colleges are affordable. It’s ensuring that the students have their needs met,” Santiago said.

Before they reach college, black students in Massachusetts score high on national standardized tests, suggesting they are on average better prepared academically than their counterparts in other states.

The report pulled data from the Census Bureau and a US Department of Education database to measure each institution’s black undergraduate percentage compared to the percentage of black population between 18 and 24 in the college’s home state, the gender balance between black men and women compared to the balance between men and women of all races nationally, the graduation rate of black students within six years and the ratio of black students to black full-time professors.

The report averaged each institution’s score to derive a state's overall score. Massachusetts scored the highest at 2.81 on a 4.0 scale.

Scores were given to public four-year colleges except for historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and military academies. Two-year community colleges are also not included.

Among the 506 colleges that were graded, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams tied with the University of Louisville and University of California, San Diego for the top score of 3.5.

Fitchburg State and Framingham State also stood in the top ten, while UMass Boston was ranked sixteenth.

Santiago said Massachusetts still has room for improvement.

“We’re pleased with the results in terms of our African American students,” he said. “But we know there’s a lot of work to do because we still have significant opportunity gaps among our Latino students.”