Fairfax County second graders scored in the 81st percentile of all students nationally in a test of overall educational ability that was administered in January. A story in yesterday's Metro section incorrectly stated that the score was attained for reading ability alone.

Fairfax County students scored well above the national average this year on standardized tests, maintaining or slightly improving last year's results, county school officials said yesterday.

"It's the same consistent trend we've seen for the last few years," said Joseph R. Montecalvo, a specialist in the school system's Office of Research and Evaluation. "They have remained stable or gone up a few points." School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane said in a statement that he is "again pleased that our test scores continue to remain at a high level."

The overall scores for all three achievement tests in Fairfax County showed fourth graders scoring in the 79th percentile nationally; sixth graders scoring in the 81st percentile; and eighth and 11th graders scoring in the 78th percentile.

Scores on the mathematics, reading and English usage tests for fourth, sixth and 11th graders increased slightly or remained unchanged from last year. Falls Church city school test scores released yesterday also showed students scoring well above the national average, officials said.

Virginia requires all fourth, eighth and 11th graders to take achievement and skills tests in math, reading and English usage that have been developed by Science Research Associates (SRA). The test was administered in March.

The highest score in Fairfax County was on the sixth grade math test, in which students ranked in the 85th percentile of students nationwide, meaning the students performed better than 85 percent of all students in the nation taking the test. The lowest score was recorded in eighth grade reading, in which students ranked in the 73rd percentile nationally.

Fairfax County administered a skills test developed by another company to its second graders in March. The reading achievement levels of the second graders -- the 69th percentile -- was the lowest scored on that test. On a test given to the second graders in January, the students scored in the 81st percentile in the reading category.

Fairfax County results showed more students than ever scoring above the 80th national percentile in reading, math and English usage, and declining numbers scoring below the 20th percentile in those areas.

Eighth grade scores declined by one percentile ranking on achievement tests. Montecalvo said he was unconcerned by the drop, but "if the same thing happens next year, we'll want to look at it."

Test results from the Falls Church school system, which administers the SRA to students in grades 2 through 8 and to 10th and 11th graders, showed all students scoring well above the national average. Scores declined from last year for second and 11th graders, with the most dramatic drop in 11th grade basic skills. Test scores of other students remained virtually unchanged or increased slightly from past years, with third, seventh and 10th grade scores increasing by as much as 10 percentile rankings.

Falls Church school officials said the small number of students tested make the scores subject to fluctuation.