RICHMOND, Va. — Forty-one percent of Virginia’s public schools met annual benchmarks aimed at reducing proficiency gaps between low-performing and high-performing schools, state education officials said Tuesday.

Of the state’s 1,828 schools, 743 of them met all of the benchmarks in reading, mathematics and graduation, officials said.

The annual measurable objectives based on the performance on state standardized tests replace the adequate yearly progress targets created by the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. Last year, the state received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for certain provisions of the federal law.

“Virginia has raised the bar to prepare students for the realities of the 21st century,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in a news release about the results. “Our challenge — from the superintendent’s office to the classroom — is to make sure students have the instruction and interventions they need to achieve the commonwealth’s college- and career-ready expectations, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

At least 66 percent of students overall were required to pass new, more rigorous standardized reading tests for a school to be considered proficient for the 2012-13 school year. At least 64 percent were required to pass the math tests, which were revised two school years ago to better prepare students for college or post-graduation employment. Rates for each subgroup — including black and Hispanic students, those with disabilities, and English learners — varied.

Based on the benchmarks, officials are directing 459 schools — or about 25 percent — to develop and implement improvement plans to raise achievement levels for certain races and other subgroups.

Additionally, 37 schools have been designated as “priority” schools, which must use state-approved partners to help design and implement reforms, another 46 “focus” schools must employ a state-approved coach to develop, implement and monitor strategies to improve student performance.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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