(See some comparative statistics at the end of the story)

Black and Hispanic students attending Defense Department schools scored higher than their U.S. peers in a standardized reading test, according to results released Wednesday.

The Department of Defense Education Activity finished atop the rankings in five categories of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, which is given every two years to measure students’ proficiency levels. This week’s results reflect tests taken by fourth- and eighth-grade students in 2009.

“If you compare us against the national average, we are doing well,” said Steve Schrankel, chief of assessment and accountability for DODEA, calling the scores “very good results.”

Student scores, which can range from zero to 500, are placed into four levels: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.

DODEA’s scores among black and Hispanic students were the best in the nation. That was especially true among eighth-graders, where black students compiled a 262, topping the average for all black students nationwide by 17 points. Hispanic students had a 269, 21 points better than the national average for Hispanics. Both scores placed DODEA students in the middle of the “basic” range.

Black fourth-graders in DODEA topped the nation with a 218 — 14 points better than the national average for blacks. Hispanic students scored a 223, tied atop the country with Florida and 21 points better than the national average for Hispanics. Again, those scores fell within the “basic” range.

Eighth-grade boys in DODEA scored 269, which tied for first with Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Despite the favorable results compared to other states, most of DODEA’s scores were either similar to, or slightly lower than, those it registered in 2007. Average scores in both fourth and eighth grades dropped a point overall. And most students failed to achieve the goal of proficient set by the U.S. Department of Education.

Shrankel said the one-point drop isn’t considered a significant change by those who run the tests. And he said that “we would always say there is room for continuous improvement.”

DODEA did better in reading than it did in the mathematics portion, which was released last fall. Fourth-graders finished 27th overall in math and eighth-graders ranked 15th compared to other state school systems.

In reading, DODEA students in fourth grade finished with an average score of 228 — eight points higher than the national average. That was good enough for sixth among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts led the way with 234.

Among eighth-graders, DODEA students earned a 272 — 10 points above the national average. That total trailed only Massachusetts and New Jersey and tied with Connecticut and Vermont scores.

See more test results here.

DODEA students get high marksThe National Assessment of Educational Progress has released the results of its 2009 reading tests, which is taken in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and by Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

A look at how DODEA scored in some categories compared with other states:

4TH GRADE READING(208 meets basic reading skills; 238 is considered proficient)

Overall1. Massachusetts 2342. Connecticut 2292. New Hampshire 2292. New Jersey 2292. Vermont 2296. DODEA 228Average 220Boys1. Massachusetts 2312. New Jersey 2273. New Hampshire 2264. Vermont 2265. Connecticut 2256. DODEA 224Average 216Girls1. Massachusetts 2362. Connecticut 2343. DODEA 2333. New Hampshire 2335. New Jersey 232Average 223Whites1. Massachusetts 2412. Connecticut 2383. Maryland 2373. New Jersey 2374. Colorado 2367. DODEA 234Average 229Blacks1. DODEA 2182. Massachusetts 2162. New Hampshire 2164. Vermont 2145. 4 states at 213Average 204Hispanics1. DODEA 2231. Florida 2233. Maryland 2214. Montana 2195. New Hampshire 217Average 2048TH GRADE READING(243 meets basic reading skills; 281 is considered proficient)

Overall1. Massachusetts 2742. New Jersey 2733. Connecticut 2723. DODEA 2723. Vermont 272Average 262Boys1. DODEA 2691. Massachusetts 2691. New Jersey 2694. Connecticut 2674. Rhode Island 2674. Vermont 267Average 258Girls1. Massachusetts 2792. Vermont 2783. Connecticut 2773. New Hampshire 2773. New Jersey 2776. DODEA 2766. Montana 276Average 267Whites1. New Jersey 2812. Connecticut 2792. Maryland 2792. Massachusetts 2795. DODEA 278Average 271Blacks1. DODEA 2622. Hawaii 2563. Delaware 2543. Maine 2545. Massachusetts 251Average 245Hispanics1. DODEA 2692. Kentucky 2653. Alaska 2603. Missouri 2605. Florida 260Average 248Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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