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Officials concerned by lack of reading improvement, persisting gap between whites and minorities on CMT

Students continued to fare poorly in reading on the 2007
Connecticut Mastery Test, though they improved in math and writing, according
to results released Friday.

Students in grades three through eight take the standardized

The proportion of third-graders who were proficient in
reading was 69 percent, unchanged from last year. In writing, 82 percent of
third-graders were proficient, the same as in 2006.

Third-grade reading performance is key as state education
officials focus on reading instruction in the early grades, said state
Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan.

“As a state, we should be making more meaningful
progress,” McQuillan said in a statement. “We should all be
disappointed with reading performance across the board, even though some districts
and schools have made significant gains.”

Third-grade students improved in math, with 80 percent
proficient, up by 2 percentage points from 2006. Eighth-grade students also
improved 2 percentage points, with 81 percent proficient.

The number of eighth-grade students proficient in reading
dropped a percentage point to 76 percent, while the number proficient in
writing increased a percentage point to 83 percent.

schools and educators need to do more to address students’ ability to read,
McQuillan said.

“We need significant change to have an impact on the
achievement gaps that are now growing larger, not smaller,” he said.

McQuillan said he will distribute new model curricula and
grade level expectations and work to improve the quality of training programs
for new teachers.

As they did last year, state officials reported that large
gaps persist in performance between minority and white students.

For example, the report said white students outperform black
and Hispanic students by between 35 and 40 percentage points in reading,
writing and math.

Among the schools cited as doing a good job to improve
reading scores were Conte/West Hills Magnet School in New
Haven, which started a “Reading First”
program, and the North Windham
School in Windham,
which improved the performance of minority students.

Detailed town-by town results for the Connecticut Mastery
Tests from the state Department of Education are available at

– Associated Press

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