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Fourth-graders in the city's public schools made great strides last year in mathematics with 87 percent of them passing the state mathematics assessment exam last year, the School Board was told Thursday evening.

That's 18 percentage points higher than the 69 percent who passed it in 2002 and 6 points higher than the 81 percent passing rate in 2003.

"Our scores have increased significantly overall. Six of our nine elementary schools are high-performing. The other three are performing at standard and are not categorized as in need of improvement in mathematics," said Marcia Capone, the teacher on special assignment who keeps track of Regents performance and state assessment results for the district. About 63 percent of fourth-graders must pass the math test for the district to meet state standards.

In Niagara Falls, 526 or the district's 605 fourth-graders -- 87 percent -- passed the math assessment exam last school year.

Sixty-Sixth Street School, named a federal and state Blue Ribbon School, led the district with with 46 of its 48 fourth-graders, 96 percent, passing the exam. Maple Avenue, 60th Street and Geraldine J. Mann schools were close behind at 95 percent, while 94 percent passed at Henry J. Kalfas School and 92 percent passed at 79th Street School, Capone said.

She said 86 and 84 percent passed, respectively, at Hyde Park and Harry F. Abate schools while Niagara Street School followed well behind, but making state standards, at 72 percent. She said 62 of Niagara Street School's 86 fourth-graders passed the state math test, improving from a 62 percent passing rate in 2002 and 65 percent in 2003.

District students, however, didn't do as well on the eighth-grade math assessment tests.

Capone said 360 of the district's 645 eighth-graders, 56 percent, passed the math assessments.

Test results showed Niagara Middle School's eighth-graders improved, jumping from 49 percent of its students passing the math assessment test in 2002 to 76 percent in 2004. Only 35 percent of Gaskill Middle School's eighth-graders passed the math assessment exam in 2002, compared with 44 percent in 2004, but the school dropped down from the 2003 passing rate of 50 percent. LaSalle Middle School saw 33 percent of its eighth-graders pass in 2002, compared with 58 percent in 2004.

Superintendent Carmen A. Granto said the district is setting up programs designed to help students at all three middle schools and Abate and Niagara Street schools improve their performances.

In other business, Granto told the board the district is studying the feasibility of having the front of the proposed $15 million Niagara Street School face Welch Avenue instead of Niagara Street.

"We are doing a cost analysis to see if it's viable," he said, adding the district could save several hundred thousand dollars doing it that way. "We just want to look at that possibility. There's been no decision to change."

If the district changes the design, it would have to relocate Niagara Street pupils for one year because the old building would have to come down before construction begins.


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