Analysis of standard test scores in Arlington County public schools shows that student performances, charted over several grades, have improved or remained stable in mathematics and reading in the last several years, with a significant increase in reading scores in the lower grades.

"We're very pleased with the results," said Acting Superintendent J. Boyd Webb in releasing the 128-page report outlining the test scores. For the first time, the report charts the scoring trends on nationally standardized tests of students in the fourth, sixth, eighth and 11th grades as they move up through those grades.

"I think (the results) show Arlington's continued dedication to quality education," Webb said. "And that dedication and emphasis on instructional programs is reflected very positively in the test results."

In addition to analyzing scoring trends on the standardized tests in reading and math, and annual report to the school board also includes school-by-school and ethnic break-downs of test scores in other academic subjects as well as a number of other exams, such as graduation competency tests and college entrance examinations.

One purpose of the report was to trace how students have done in succeeding years. The report traces, for example, how 11th graders performed in the fourth, sixth and eighth grades on similar tests. For students in the eighth, sixth and fourth grades, the tests go back to the second grade.

Particularly encouraging, webb said, were reading scores for fourth and sixth graders, which are well above the national and state average. Fourth graders scored ahead of 77 percent of their peers, an improvement of 16 points over scores recorded for the same group of students when they were in the second grade. Reading scores for sixth graders placed them ahead of 78 percent of their peers, 5 points higher than they fourth grade scores and 22 points higher than their second-grade scores.

Eighth and 11th graders remained stable in reading slightly above the national average.

Math scores also show upward or stable trends, with fourth graders ranking ahead of 73 percent of their peers nationally. That was only 1 point lower than their scores two years ago, a figure school officials consider statistically insignificant. Sixth graders, however, scored above 83 percent of their peers, a 12-point increase over their fourth grade scores and a 15-point increase over their second-grade scores.

Eighth graders performed better than 68 percent of their peers in math, or 4 points higher than their sixth grade scores and 11 points higher than their sixth- and fourth-grade scores. Eleventh graders out-ranked 59 percent of their peers, no significant difference from when they were in the eighth and sixth grades, but a 17-point jump over their fourth-grade scores.