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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah students scored at above the national average in reading and math tests administered to a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students.
About 200 schools in Utah participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test.
Nationwide, the report showed students were getting better at math, In reading, there was a slight improvement in fourth grade and a slip backward in the eighth grade.
Overall nationally in math, 36 percent of fourth-graders could handle challenging material, up from 32 percent in 2003. Among eighth-graders, 30 percent reached at least that level, up from 29 percent.
The average reading score rose one point to 219 on a scale of 500 in fourth grade. Only 31 percent of fourth-graders showed mastery of demanding material, bout the same as in 2003.
The same share of eighth-graders, 31 percent, were proficient in reading. That performance actually dropped compared to 2003.
Utah eighth-graders outscored their peers nationally in math, but were considered statistically equal with them in reading. Utah fourth-graders scored a bit above the national average in both math and reading.
According to the report, Utah Hispanic eighth-graders scored six points lower than the national Hispanic average in math and two points under in reading. Hispanic fourth-graders were also under the average by two points in reading and five points in math.
Girls continue to outperform boys by 10 points in both grades in reading but there was no large statistical difference in the mathematical performance of boys and girls in either grade in either year.
"There needs to be a continuing concerted and focused effort on the achievement gap," said Charlene Lui, chair of the Coalition of Minorities Advisory Committee for the State Office of Education. "We know groups are improving -- (No Child Left Behind) has brought this accountability focus and (educators) are really looking at what we need to do to meet the needs of our culturally and linguistically diverse students."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)