Three of twelve districts throughout the Charlotte area including CMS fell below the state average, which is 55.6%. The percentage of a district's elementary and middle school students reading at or above grade level ranged from 48% in Rowan-Salisbury Schools to 66% in Union County Public Schools. Last year the spread between districts in the region was much tighter. This year the tougher standards meant the number of students passing the test dropped significantly across the board. But that year-to-year drop was greatest in Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Rebecca Smith is the district's Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. She says school officials are still parsing the results but the new standard is sending a signal about how the district should prepare students. "We have to do things at a higher level to ensure we are matching up with what is required of our students. Because we certainly want them to come to the playing field prepared when they get ready to take that test," says Smith. She adds the test stresses not just reading comprehension but how that understanding can be applied. In Union County, this year's tougher testing standards were also a concern. "When we first looked at them we were thinking 'oh, no, this is not good news for us.' But when we started looking at them comparatively we realized we were in a pretty good position," says district's spokeswoman Luan Ingram. Two-thirds of Union County's elementary and middle school students read at or above grade-level. Year-to-year the district's scores dropped the least in the region.