One-third of fourth- and eighth-graders were capable of reading and doing math at grade level last year compared with one in four in 2000, according to data from the U.S. Education Department. The racial gap is slowly shrinking as well, with black and Hispanic children achieving grade level at 35% the rate of their white peers last year compared with 23% in 2000. High-school graduation rates and the number of students who planned to attend college have remained relatively flat. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings called for more reforms for secondary students.

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