Updated March 27 at 6:35pm

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EDUCATION

Achievement gaps widen even as NECAP scores rise in all grades

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PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s scores on the New England Common Assessment Program science tests rose at all grade levels, marking the fourth consecutive year statewide proficiency rates improved, the R.I. Department of Education announced Thursday.

The NECAP assessments were taken in May by all students in grades 4, 8 and 11.

In 2012, the statewide proficiency rate improved by 3.1 percentage points to 34.8 percent proficient. Since 2008, the state’s proficiency level has improved by 11 percentage points.

“We all are aware that our students need a solid background in science in order to succeed in college and in the challenging careers in the Rhode Island economy of the future,” Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said in prepared remarks.

Among tested fourth-graders, 45.5 percent attained proficiency, an improvement of 1.8 percentage points over 2011 test scores.

For eighth-grade middle school students, 26.9 percent attained proficiency, an increase of 1.5 percentage points compared with last year.

Scores for high school students improved 6.3 percentage points to a 32 percent proficiency rate compared with 2011 numbers.

“Rhode Island educators are committed to preparing our students with the knowledge and skills they will need in literacy, mathematics and science,” George D. Caruolo, chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, said in a statement. “We have a long way to go to attain the high statewide proficiency levels that we would like to see, but the test results we released today show that we are on the right course toward preparing all students for success.”

While the statewide proficiency improved, the NECAP results showed that achievement gaps separating many groups of students widened. Gaps between black and white students, Hispanic and white students, English and non-English learners and the gaps between economically disadvantaged students and non-economically disadvantaged students widened at all three grade levels.

“Although I am pleased by the statewide improvements on the 2012 NECAP Science assessments, the persistent achievement gaps across all grade levels remain a significant concern that we will work to address,” David V. Abbott, acting commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said in prepared remarks.

To view a complete listing of the 2012 NECAP results, visit: www.ride.ri.gov.

RIDE, R.I. Department of Education, NECAP, New England Common Assessment Program, Providence, NECAP, Chafee

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