WASHINGTON -- Students in the largest urban public school systems showed improvement in reading and math in the first year under the federal education overhaul, according to a coalition of urban schools.
The study by the Council of the Great City Schools reviewed state test scores from 61 urban school districts in 37 states. It compared 2002 and 2003 test results.
The council's executive director, Michael Casserly, said that the gains in fourth-grade reading were especially impressive.
"It's one of the first signs that the major cities are making substantial headway at the elementary school level in teaching students to read," he said.
The report released yesterday found that 47 percent of the fourth-graders in the study scored at or above proficiency in reading -- a gain of almost 5 percentage points from 2002. For math, 51 percent of the students tested at or above proficiency, nearly 7 percentage points better than the year before.
For eighth-graders, 37 percent scored at or above proficiency in reading, about 1 percentage point higher than in 2002. In math, there was a gain of 3 percentage points, to 39 percent proficiency.
The scores covered the first year of the No Child Left Behind law, a centerpiece of President Bush's education agenda.