Results released today by the state Education Department show nearly four out of five high school students passed both the English and math sections. The 79 percent passing rate marks an increase of more than 2 percentage points over 2009.
But it's still less than state's highest showing in 2008 at 81 percent. Results dipped last year after three years of improvement.
Students must pass the test to graduate. They initially take it in their second year of high school — generally their sophomore year. Those who don't pass both sections can retake any part they failed.
The test also is used to judge how well high schools are progressing on state and federal education goals.