- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Black students in Fairfax County performed better in Stanford 9 tests administered last fall, but Hispanic students scored lower than they did the previous year, according to data released yesterday.
Overall, schools in the county showed an aggregate gain of 34 points over last year's scores. Black students gained 64 points on the tests, better than their white counterparts, who gained 40 points, and Asian students, who gained 33 points. Hispanic students, however, had a 6-point drop in their scores.
The Stanford 9, a nationally used academic test, is administered in the subject areas of math, reading and science to students in grades four, six and nine in Fairfax County and was first given in 1998.
On the 30 subtests of the Stanford 9 tests administered in 2000, Hispanic students had made the highest gain in the county 71 points.
School officials said they were not certain why Hispanic students had scored lower this year. "It is hard to say. We have worked hard on improving the scores of all minority students," said county schools spokesman Paul Regnier.
He said that while federal law does not permit the school system to create programs for certain ethnic groups, Fairfax had strong programs for students who speak English as a second language and other initiatives for schools with large numbers of poor students, such as the Project Excel schools 20 low-performing schools in the county that receive additional resources.
While their aggregate scores went down in 2001, Hispanic students scored at or above the 50th percentile on 22 of the 30 tests. Asian and white students scored at or above the 50th percentile on all tests, while black students scored in the 50th percentile or higher on 16 of the 30 tests.
Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech said he was encouraged by the overall scores "because they prove that our efforts to increase minority achievement are paying off."
Board members, while welcoming the increases, said the county needed to focus harder on some students.
"If you look at the scores of black students, even though they have come up, they are still in the 44th percentile. When you compare that with the whites and the Asians, we still have a ways to go," said at-large member Mychele Brickner.
Jane Strauss, a school board member of the Dranesville District, credited teachers and students with the improved results, and better programs for non-English speakers. But she said more remains to be done.
"We have not won the race, by any means. All scores in general are rising, but it is still not enough," she said.
Parents said they had a high regard for the school system's English as a Second Language programs, but added that the county may need to study these programs closely in the light of the latest results.
"We are very concerned that the school division make progress on narrowing the minority achievement gap," said Mitch Luxenburg, president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs.

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