CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cautiously pleased with the latest achievement test results for the Chicago Public Schools.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, while visiting Ellen H. Richards Career Academy High School on the South Side, the mayor noted CPS posted significant gains in state achievement tests, and the national ACT exams.

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In Emanuel’s first year as mayor, the average ACT score for CPS high school students rose to 17.6, its highest level in more than a decade, though still short of the 18 typically considered acceptable, and the 20 CPS has targeted as a goal.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

There was also an increase in the percentage of students meeting college-ready benchmarks on all four subjects covered by the ACT, although the number is still a discouraging 8.9 percent, up from 7.9 percent last year. The number of CPS juniors who failed to meet any college-ready benchmarks dropped from 58.5 percent to 53.4 percent.

As for the state’s Prairie State Achievement Exam, 31 percent of juniors at CPS passed the exam this year, up 2.7 percentage points.

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Even with those gains, the mayor acknowledged the school system has a long way to go.

“The mean score throughout the CPS is still off of what you need for a DePaul, for a University of Illinois, for a Loyola. That said, we have had the best improvement we’ve had in a decade. … Now, remember, we’ve moved – in a decade – about a point and a half,” Emanuel said. “So, while we’ve made good progress, we haven’t made the progress we need to open the doors to the future for our kids.”

The mayor said public schools have improved on a number of fronts, not just test scores.

“We’ve also had a record graduation rate – 60 percent – record college attendance for Chicago Public School kids, and a record improvement in our ACT scores. That said, we have a long way to go,” Emanuel said.

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The mayor called the higher test scores great news, but suggested they could improve with the longer school day in effect this school year.