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Regents picture brightens in Falls High school students score better than ever

More Niagara Falls High School students are taking and doing better on state Regents exams than ever before.

But they are still being stumped by questions in the Global Studies test.

In a report to the Niagara Falls School Board, Marcia Capone, administrator for assessment, said results for 2007 show that an increasing number of students are taking Regents exams and, in most cases, are either doing better on them than the students who preceded them or are at least keeping even and meeting state standards.

For example, Capone said the number of students taking the Regents test for Living Environment, formerly called biology, increased from 538 in 2006 to 581 last spring.

"So what we are seeing is a significant increase in students going for Regents credit in science, which is good," Capone said.

She said 82 percent of the students who took the 2007 regents exam in Living Environment scored 65 or above, compared with 69 percent the year before.

"That's a major improvement, 13 percent," Capone said. "That's the highest we've ever been."

She also said 94 percent of those students passed Living Environment with a score of 55 or above, compared with 91 percent in 2006.

Mark R. Laurrie, the school's chief educational administrator, said the increase in the number of test-takers was a result of a push for excellence at the school last year that encouraged every student to take Regents exams, with the promise that if they didn't do well, they could still graduate by passing an easier Regents Competency Test.

"We raised expectations and put every student in a position where it was difficult not to take Regents exams," Laurrie said.

Compared with Living Environment, the Regents exam in Global Studies turned out quite differently.

"Global Studies still continues to be problematic," Capone said. "The number of students who took it increased from 525 in 2006 to 549 in 2007, but only 49 percent scored 65 or above in 2007, compared to 58 percent in 2006."

She said the percentage of students scoring 55 or above on the test dropped from 76 percent in 2006 to 74 percent last spring.

The district staff is analyzing the results to see where students did not do well. Capone said other school districts -- including Clarence and Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda -- are being contacted to see what they were doing to help their students get better scores.

The situation remained stable in many other subjects, and Niagara Falls High School remains in the state Education Department's good graces when it comes to academic performance, Capone said.

Capone said 93 percent of the 459 students who took the 2007 Regents exam in Comprehensive English scored 65 or better, inching up 1 percentage point over 2006, when 413 students took that test.

She said that 95 percent of students who took the basic Regents Mathematics A exam scored 55 or above, compared with 90 percent in 2006 but that only 78 percent scored 65 or above, compared with 82 percent in 2006. She said the number of students taking that test rose from 331 in 2006 to 370 last year.

There also was improvement on the Regents exam in advanced mathematics, Math B. While more students took the test than even before -- 231 in 2007, compared with 199 in the previous year -- Capone said 69 percent scored 55 or above in 2007, compared with 64 percent in 2006. She said 53 percent of those students scored 65 or above, compared with 51 percent in the year before.

While some subjects show percentage drops in test results, Capone said that is partly because more students who normally would not have taken the tests are trying to improve themselves academically, which the district wants to see.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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