Students of the military’s educational system continue to outpace the U.S. national average on a standardized test that measures their basic skill levels in reading, math, science, social studies and languages.

Defense Department students, both overseas and in the States, scored better than their public school counterparts in all areas, at all grade levels, test results indicate.

Students of the Department of Defense Education Activity, which runs military schools both overseas and in some southern states, outperformed peers on the TerraNova. That’s indicative of the quality not just of students, but the educational support from teachers, families and commands, officials said.

“That means we have real good kids, real good teachers, and real good family support and that, in addition to some other things, is why we’ve been able to sustain scores above the national average,” said Janet Rope, the administrator for accountability, accreditation, research and evaluation at DODEA, headquartered in Arlington, Va.

The TerraNova is part of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” which calls for annual testing of all third- through 11th-graders in core subjects.

The initiative also calls for a minimum of 95 percent of eligible students to take the exams, Rope said.

In military schools, participation in 2003 was up from 95 percent to 97 percent after officials emphasized to teachers and administrators the importance of having as many students as possible take the test.

Systemwide, 61,236 DODEA students in grades three through 11 took the nationally administered TerraNova exam, Rope said.

Individual student test scores are sent to parents, who can then compare their child’s progress to nationwide and systemwide scoring, Rope said.

In 33 of the 45 subtests, the military students’ scores were 10 to 20 points above the national average, eight subtest scores were 21 to 25 points higher, and the remaining four subtest scores were three to nine points higher, results indicate.

To help students improve, the system has set up tutorial programs, such as reading and math support classes at the high school level that are offered as electives during the regular school day, Rope said.

“We’ve been focusing on high schools, … but we’re looking [at] how to adapt the programs to help elementary and middle school students as well,” Rope said.

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