Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Test Scores Better among Minority Students Exam Replaces Social Promotion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Test Scores Better among Minority Students Exam Replaces Social Promotion

Article excerpt

Byline: Doug Gross, Times-Union staff writer

ATLANTA -- Minority children made modest gains this year on tests that Georgia students eventually will have to pass under a new anti-social promotion law.

But black and Hispanic students still trailed whites by significant margins, especially in math, renewing critics' complaints that standardized tests unfairly impact minorities.

Overall, the percentage of public school students in fourth, sixth and eighth grades who failed Criterion-Referenced Competency tests dropped between 2000 and 2001.

The scores "show that Georgia's public schools are moving in the right direction," said state schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko. "I'm especially pleased with the reading scores. If a child can read well, he will most assuredly be successful in all other studies."

Figures released by the state Department of Education show that black and Hispanic students made the most significant reading gains.

The percentage of black students who passed the reading tests was up from 51 percent to 63 percent in fourth grade, from 57 to 65 percent in sixth grade and from 62 to 74 percent in eighth grade.

Hispanics made similar reading gains -- 47 to 57 percent in fourth grade, 55 to 61 percent in sixth grade and 59 to 67 percent in eighth grade.

But white students remained far ahead, passing at a rate of 83 percent in fourth grade, 85 percent in sixth grade and 89 percent in eighth grade.

Math and science tests were even tougher for minorities. More than half the black and Hispanic students who took the fourth- and eighth-grade math tests failed them, compared to only 26 percent of white fourth-graders and 30 percent of white eighth-graders.

That gap has educators and lawmakers concerned.

"We have managed to close the gap between these groups in reading, and I'm relatively pleased by those scores," Schrenko said. "But we have much work to be done."

Under an anti-social promotion bill pushed by Gov. …

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