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Students measure up well

The math and reading skills of students tested in Fargo and West Fargo public schools compare favorably with those of their peers statewide, according to data released by the local schools.

The math and reading skills of students tested in Fargo and West Fargo public schools compare favorably with those of their peers statewide, according to data released by the local schools.

Even so, about three in five local fourth-, eighth- and 12-graders aren't proficient in math and about two in five aren't proficient in reading.

North Dakota students in the three grades took math and reading tests in March. The tests measured students' abilities against standards set by state teachers and education experts.

A student deemed proficient demonstrated understanding and met expected levels of performance.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction released statewide numbers last week. Fargo and West Fargo school officials released their local numbers after studying the data compiled by testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill.

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Here's how the numbers break down:

E Fourth grade: Math proficiency -- 57 percent statewide, 57 percent in Fargo and 56 percent in West Fargo. Reading proficiency -- 74 percent statewide, 73 percent in Fargo and 72 percent in West Fargo.

E Eighth grade: Math proficiency -- 42 percent statewide, 45 percent in Fargo and 43 percent in West Fargo. Reading proficiency -- 66 percent statewide, 61 percent in Fargo and 68 percent in West Fargo.

E 12th grade: Math proficiency -- 33 percent statewide, 45 percent in Fargo and 35 percent in West Fargo. Reading proficiency -- 50 percent statewide, 59 percent in Fargo and 56 percent in West Fargo.

One question raised by the test results: Why did Fargo eighth-graders fare relatively poorly in reading proficiency, while Fargo 12th-graders fared relatively well?

Lowell Wolff, the district's administrator for community relations and planning, said he can't explain the turnaround.

"These test results just don't tell us that," he said.

But the 12th-grade numbers are the more important of the two, he said.

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Another question raised by the test results: Why did West Fargo seniors fall well short of their Fargo counterparts in math proficiency?

West Fargo Superintendent Charles Cheney said he doesn't have the answer.

State education officials say the test results will help schools better understand the areas in which they need to improve.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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