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By The CRIMSON Staff

Cambridge schools saw significant improvements in student test scores as well as a decline in the high school drop-out rate, according to a city report released last week.

Cambridge students scored significantly higher in reading and math on the California Achievement Test, according to the public schools' third annual Student Data Report.

"We've seen some important successes over the past year and we are very pleased with the progress students are making," school superintendent Mary Lou McGrath said in a statement. "The data report also flags some areas where we need to concentrate our efforts to help more students improve."

McGrath pointed specifically to the high course failure rate at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.

One third of students there have failed at least one course.

"We've mobilized resources at the high school to see why this is happening, and to help deal with students who may be having trouble before they reach the point of failing a course," McGrath said.

At the same time, she noted that there had been a 10 percent increase in 10th-grade reading scores and an eight percent improvement in math scores at the high school level.

The improvements are noteworthy because they come at a time when the student body being educated in Cambridge has become more diverse, according to McGrath's statement.

"While the percentage of minority students increased slightly by one percent," she said, "the percentage of elementary students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, the only real indicator we have at present of low-income students, has dropped by nearly five percent."

"The proportion of students whose first language is not English has increased by nearly three percent," she added. "We remain a very diverse, but very effective urban school system."

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