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Boston Students Test Over Urban Average In Reading

Boston's public school fourth- and eighth-graders scored slightly above average on national reading exams compared with their counterparts in other large cities, according to results released Thursday.

Scores from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress exams showed that Boston fourth-graders scored an average of 215, compared with an average of 210 for public school students in other cities. The city's eighth graders averaged 257, above the average of 252.

Both average scores also were slightly higher than results from 2007. The tests are given every two years.

The results released Thursday were of average scores of fourth- and eighth-graders in 16 large urban school districts.

While Boston Public Schools ranked fairly well compared to other large school districts, the district's reading scores were well below the state's reading average.

For the third straight time, Massachusetts fourth- and eighth-graders received the nation's highest reading scores on the exams, according to results released in March.

That state's fourth-graders scored an average of 234 on the 2009 test, compared with the national average of 220. Eighth-graders averaged 274, tied for first with five other states and above the 262 national average.

In addition, black and Latino fourth-graders in Boston's public schools scored on average about 20 points lower than white students. Average scores for the city's black and Latino eighth-graders were about 30 points lower.

While Boston Public Schools officials generally were pleased with the results, more work needs to be done to get scores up, district spokesman Matthew Wilder said.

"We are very excited about the growth we are seeing, but we feel we have a lot more to do to close the achievement gap," Wilder said.

Wilder said Boston Public Schools recently began a districtwide elementary reading curriculum to help improve reading scores. Previously, the district's large mobile student population moved from school to school but didn't see a consistent curriculum, he said.

The district is exploring a similar reading curriculum for its middle schools, Wilder said.

This program aired on May 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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