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DoDDS Students Make the Grade on National Test

By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 22, 1999 – Students in Department of Defense dependent schools were among the nation's best scorers in reading in a recent congressionally mandated annual test.

Fourth and eighth graders in DoD's overseas schools placed fourth and fifth, respectively, among the 43 states and jurisdictions that participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. In defense stateside schools, fourth graders ranked 7th nationally and eighth graders, fourth.

The test rates academic achievement across a sample of schools each year, said Lillian Gonzales, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity. DoD schools have participated in the test, commonly known as the nation's report card, since 1994.

"It has served as a indicator of how well our school systems are doing in comparison to each other and in comparison to the national standards," Gonzales said. This year, the test targeted fourth and eighth graders and assessed their reading skills.

She attributed the students' success to a number of things, but topping the list is the curriculum taught in DoD schools. "Our curriculum is closely aligned to the national standards, which the test assesses," she said. "We are extremely focused on academic growth and achievement. We have the best-trained work force in the nation. We have highly skilled and trained teachers who are also highly committed."

The national test also broke down test scores among minority students. African-American and Hispanic fourth graders in DoD's overseas schools ranked first nationally, and Asian students ranked fifth.

In DoD's stateside schools, African-American and Hispanic fourth graders ranked second nationally, and Asian students ranked sixth. No ethnic data was available for eighth graders.

"Our minority students did extremely well," Gonzales said. "We put a strong focus on reducing the gap between our minority and mainstream students. We had to establish some strategies that would help minority students achieve their highest potential."

She also credited technology for the students' performance. "We are focusing our abilities for all of our schools to have access to computers and the World Wide Web," she said.

Gonzales noted the DoD schools' military environment is also very conducive to learning: "It's safe and, therefore, conducive to learning."

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