Standardized test scores for Virginia students in the fourth, eighth and 11th grades are above the national average for the fourth year in a row, according to preliminary figures released by the state Department of Education.

"This year's test results continue an upward trend that has been evident in Virginia for more than 10 years," S. John Davis, superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement.

The Science Research Associates test given this spring measured the math, language and science ability of 204,000 state students. This year's scores either increased over last year's in the different age groups or stayed the same.

Scores are shown in percentiles with 50 being the national average and 100 the highest possible score.

Statewide, fourth-grade scores were 58 in reading, 61 in math and 59 in science. Eighth-grade scores were 55 in reading, 67 in math and 63 in science. The scores for 11th grade were 60 in reading, 67 in math and 60 in science.

Davis said the results are still preliminary, awaiting verification for accuracy.

The state Board of Education is considering proposals that would target schools where students are not receiving a good education, according to Deputy Superintendent William J. Burkholder. He estimates that at least 5 percent of state schools could wind up designated educationally deficient.

Students in Northern Virginia continued this year to score well above the national average and in some cases well above the state average, according to results released in the last two weeks and reported in The Washington Post for schools in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.