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Reading scores among elementary and middle-school students in New York City stalled in 2004 after steady improvements since 1999, according to a report released by Assemblymember Jim Brennan in late June. From 1999 to 2003, the percentage of students in grades three to eight who met proficiency standards rose over five points, from 35.1 to 41 percent. In 2004, however, students in grades four, five and seven scored lower than the year before, while students in the other grades scored higher. The overall scores caused the pass rate to stay at the same level as the year before, rather than improve. A Department of Education report acknowledges the declines in reading scores, but mentions that the fourth grade decline reflected a statewide trend in language arts scores for this year. Meanwhile, the study also noted a 5.1 percent increase in math performance, with 42.5 percent of students in grades three and five though seven passing math proficiency standards in 2004, up from 37.4 percent in 2003. Ron Davis, a spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers, said that while math scores reflected the continuing success of traditional teaching methods, the declines in reading scores were a result of new teaching methods that were “not scientifically proven.” [08/16/04]