[PARAGRAPHS ILLEGIBLE] children are not met in our public school system," Forbes said.

Forbes added that the study made no specific recommendations on how to alleviate the problem. "All this study does," he said, "is to provide information so that people in Washington and the states will have the data and can do something about it."

Forbes suggested that one of the reasons for the low scores of Hispanic, is the lack of facilities for dealing with children brought up outside the English-speaking mainstream of society.

"Our education system has been based on the idea that America is a melting pot of races, colors and creeds," he said. "The assessment figures indicate that for Hispanic children, at least, this theory does not work. These minority students have different needs and those needs have not been meet. Clearly from the national prospective, equal-benefits education does not exist for all the children of this country."

The study also showed that Hispanic students tend to fall father behind as they grow older. Jose Martinez, biligual programer evaluator for the California State Department of Education, said Hispanic students suffer increasingly from their language difficulties as school problems become more complex.

"If you start with deficiencies . . . and you don't compensate for those deficiencies, the deficiencies will become greater," said Martinez, who worked as a consultant to the NAEP project.

Martinez held out hope that bilingual education, commonplace in California, might help alleviate the disparity between white and Hispanic students over the long run.

Hispanic-Americans constitute the nation's second-largest minority, following blacks. More than 11 million people of Spanish heritage live in the United States.