State Education officials say 88 percent of high school sophomores passed the standardized MCAS exam on their first try this year, though achievement gaps persisted and several schools in the state's largest cities were in danger of failing.

Students must pass the english, math and science portions of the exam before they can graduate high school.

In New Bedford, Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin reports some modest gains in the city...

Students made some gains at the Parker Elementary School, a school labeled chronically underperforming by the state.

In suburban districts, math scores in Dartmouth were 12% higher than the state average. In Fairhaven, 96% of last year's sophomores scored either advanced or proficient in the english part of the exam.

And at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School, scores declined slightly, dropping the school district from level one to level two.

(Information gathered by Associated Press used in this story)