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Students' English, math scores improving
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — California students posted gains in English and math proficiency for the ninth straight year, but the so-called achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white and Asian peers remains a persistent gulf, state education officials said Friday.

Scores on this year's Standardized Testing and Reporting exams were the highest since the tests were revamped in 2003, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Students in grades 2 through 11 take the tests, which are considered a crucial measure of a school's success or failure, in the spring of each school year.

The number of students scoring proficient or better in English language arts increased by 3 percentage points, to 57 percent, while math proficiency rose by 1 point, to 51 percent.

Torlakson said the results are encouraging, but the state still has a long way to go, particularly for black and Latino students. Although those students posted slightly better gains than whites and Asians, their achievement lags significantly.

Black and Latino students each saw a 4 point hike in English language arts proficiency to 45 and 46 percent, respectively, while white and Asian students improved by 2 points each, to 73 percent and 78 percent, respectively.

In math, the difference was more drastic. Only 36 percent of black students tested as proficient, up by 2 percentage points, compared with 62 percent of whites, who improved by 1 point. Hispanic students also saw a 1 point gain to 42 percent. Asians' proficiency increased by 1 point to 77 percent.

The state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, which is the second biggest in the nation, saw a 1.6 percentage point increase in math proficiency and a 4 percentage point rise in English.