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Monica Foster of The Skanner
Published: 13 September 2006

Seattle students have exceeded or come close to state levels in nearly all subjects and grade levels tested, according to results from the 2006 Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
"Once again, I am especially pleased to see that our students are progressing and closing the achievement gap in reading. While unacceptable gaps between students of color and White students still exist, I am confident that we will continue to narrow, and eventually close, those gaps," said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas.
The strongest improvements came in reading and writing. In reading, 80.2 percent of fourth-grade students met or exceeded the standard. In addition, 59.2 percent of seventh-grade and 81.9 percent of 10th-grade students met the standard.
For the first time, more than 60 percent of students across all grade levels met or exceeded the standard in writing: Of those taking the test, 63.7 percent of fourth graders met or exceeded, 65.1 percent of seventh graders and 79.4 percent of 10th graders. In math and science, students at all grade levels tested also showed gains, except in seventh-grade math, where scores were flat compared to 2005.
The district made progress narrowing the gap in reading and math between fourth-grade Black, Hispanic and Native American students and their Asian and White classmates.
The gap widened among seventh graders of color and White students in reading, and between White seventh graders and their Asian and Native American peers in writing. While only about 34 percent of Black seventh graders passed the reading part of the test, 79 percent of White students passed. Except for Asian seventh graders, students of color lost ground on the gap in math.
Fourth graders at the African American Academy, had the biggest jump in passing rates among all Seattle fourth graders on the math and writing sections of the test. Sixty-three percent of the academy's fourth graders passed the reading section.
In reading, from 2000 to 2006, all ethnic groups in the fourth grade showed progress in closing the achievement gap:
• Asian: gap closed by 13.2 points;
• Black: gap closed by 12 points;
• Hispanic gap closed by 11.8 points; and
• Native American: gap closed by 10.1 points
"We applaud these achievements in reading and writing and will continue to work until every child is successful," Manhas said. "Math will continue to be a focus this year. We showed that we can make significant progress in reading and writing, and we can do the same in math.
"We must have a sustained, focused effort on math instruction, curriculum, materials and professional development," he added. "The middle school math adoption approved by the school board in the spring is a key part of this effort."
While year-to-year comparisons are important, trends over the long-term are the best indicator of student progress. Manhas said. Scores over the seven-year period 2000 to 2006 shows that Seattle students continue to improve.
"We test different groups of students from year to year, so we can expect to see scores fluctuate. That's why we focus on results over time and that picture clearly illustrates sustained and significant improvement," Manhas said.
"This trend demonstrates that the hard work and commitment of our students, teachers, aides, principals and staff—as well as families and community organizations-is leading to success."

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