U.S. students show better test results

More public school students scored at grade level or above this year in English and math than at any time in the five-year history of the comprehensive California Standards Test, according to new results from the state Department of Education.

Included in that encouraging news is that, for the first time, the percentage of students scoring at grade level in every group - ethnic, gender, economic, language and disability - improved since last year in English and math.

"California's system of school accountability is clearly working," state Superintendent Jack O'Connell, who announced the test results Monday, was quoted as saying by San Francisco Chronicle. He acknowledged, however, that most students still score below grade level.

"We still have much more work to be done," he said.

In English, 40 percent of California students scored "proficient" or "advanced" on the rigorous exam, up from 35 percent last year, and 31 percent in 2001. "Proficient" is considered to be scoring at grade level.

In math of all kinds - from arithmetic to algebra and geometry - 38 percent of students scored at grade level, up from 34 percent last year and 32 percent in 2001, San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The California Standards Test was given last spring to more than 4.8 million students in grades 2 through 11. It measures students' skills in English, math, high school history, grade 5 science and high school general science, earth science, chemistry, physics and biology. The improved performance stands in sharp contrast to that of last year, when California students set a record for stagnation or falling behind.

The only explanation, O'Connell said, is that last year's disappointment led to a redoubling of efforts to improve test scores. This year, Bay Area school districts mirrored the upward statewide trend.

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