Maryland and the District of Columbia continue to rank among the worst jurisdictions in the country in public school attendance, despite efforts by both to lower truancy, according to figures released by the Maryland Department of Education.

Virginia, with an average daily attendance of 93.5 percent, ranks 32nd among the District and the 46 states that compile attendance figures.

That compares to 88.6 percent in the District, which ranks last, and 91.6 percent in Maryland, which ranks 43rd.

The District's school system is the only one in the ranking that is entirely urban.

Attendance figures for cities are generally lower than elsewhere.

The figures show that attendance in Prince George's County, which averages 90.9 percent, falls below all other jurisdictions in Maryland except Baltimore City, where attendance averages 84.4 percent.

In Maryland, average daily attendance statewide for the 1983-84 school year was 91.5 percent, an increase of one tenth of 1 percent over the previous year.

"We do recognize we do have a problem in Maryland," said Min Leong, a state education specialist who compiled the figures.

"We just have to work toward making students and parents more responsible and more aware . . . ."

Rankings for Prince George's and Baltimore, as well as for Maryland, have not changed since last year. The District, however, dropped one rank to replace Massachusetts as the lowest jurisdiction in the country.

Leong cautioned, however, that the state rankings -- which are based on figures for the 1982-83 year -- can be misleading because some states, including Maryland, report as absent those students who are excused, while other jurisdictions report only unexcused absences.

In an effort to boost attendance, the Maryland Board of Education last year approved daily fines of up to $50 a day for parents of truant children.

The fines can be levied only in court after a truant student is referred by school administrators.

Leong said he did not know if any parents had been ordered to pay the fines this school year.

In the District, a $1 million federal grant is being spent to design truancy programs, including automatic telephone machines that will notify parents when children are absent, and a counseling center for chronic truants.

Among Maryland jurisdictions, Montgomery County ranked 19th, with a 1983-84 attendance rate of 92.8 percent, Anne Arundel County was 14th with 93.5 percent, and Howard County was 10th with 93.8 percent.