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Measure likely to address gap in at-risk students

A governor's study about the gap between minority and other at-risk student groups will likely spawn legislation to address the problem, including a proposal for all-day kindergarten classes and incentive pay for teachers and administrators willing to switch schools to work with struggling students.

Gov. Jon Huntsman in May picked a group of lawmakers, minority community leaders and educators to study the achievement gap between Utah's white and minority students.

Concern about the way Utah addresses achievement was brought to Huntsman's attention last spring during the state's challenge of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The committee met through the summer and their report is being shared at a series of seven town meetings around the state. Tim Bridgewater, the outgoing deputy for public education, said Wednesday at a meeting of the Legislature's Education Interim Committee.

In Utah the achievement gap between white and minority students has widened in recent years, as measured through national reading and math tests of fourth- and eighth-graders.

A report from the Utah Office of Education issued last summer highlighted 2003 test scores that shows 35 percent of white fourth-graders were proficient in reading, while just 11 percent of Hispanic students were. In 1992, 18 percentage points separated white and Hispanic students, the report showed.