The majority of Montgomery County students scored at the same level or higher than the national norm on reading, language and math achievement tests they took last fall, county school officials said this week.

Seventy-five percent of the third graders, 79 percent of fifth graders, 78 percent of eighth graders and 73 percent of eleventh graders tested at or above the national average on the California Achievement Tests (CAT), according to results released Monday.

Maryland school districts replaced the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills with the CAT this year because school officials felt the CAT corresponded more closely to local curricula.

In the Montgomery County results, black and Hispanic students scored below white students, Asian students scored higher than white students and females scored higher than males.

"I'm pleased with these scores because they're high no matter how you look at it," said Superintendent; of Schools Edward Andrews. He said Montgomery's scores were the highest among the state scores that have been released so far.

In percentile ranking, with the national average at 50 percent, Montgomery County ranked 77 percent for third graders, 79 percent for fifth graders, 78 percent for 8th graders and 74 percent; for eleventh graders.