State education leaders are assessing the results of the statewide achievement tests, focusing on the gaps that exist between black and white students. The State Education Department says the wide gap in achievement scores has narrowed in the last four years, but progress is slow and the gap is only slightly narrower than it was four years ago with blacks continuing to trail whites. The results come from achievement tests in the third, seventh and eleventh grades in communications arts, health and physical education, mathematics, science, and social studies. Assistant Commissioner Charles Brown says the overall numbers can hide successes some local school districts have had in boosting the test scores of black students. Brown says closer studies of the numbers, especially at the local level, can identify those practices that lead to greater progress. The tests chart the progress of Hispanic students as well. Educators say the figures do show some encouraging signs, that black and Hispanic students at the top are getting better and that the percentage of black and Hispanic students at the bottom is decreasing.
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