For the third straight year, secondary students in the District of Columbia Public Schools system have demonstrated significant achievement on their state-mandated tests.

Following three years of reform under schools chief Michelle Rhee, students in grades seven, eight and 10 scored unparalleled progress in both math and reading, according to preliminary results of the recently released 2010 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System tests.

“I am proud of the progress our students and teachers have made over the past three years,” Rhee said in a prepared statement. “But as evidenced from the dip in elementary scores this year, we still have a long way to go.” Rhee said the secondary students’ results would be used not only to measure progress but to also identify areas need improvement.

Mayor Adrian Fenty also expressed in the same statement his satisfaction over the scores.

“We have said from the beginning that long-term, sustainable reform is our ultimate goal, and the results show that while we are on the right track,” much still remains to be done.

In addition to assessing student proficiency in reading and math, the annual tests are also used to determine if schools have achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in accordance with No Child Left Behind.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, said gains made on the tests are as unusual as they are important.

“The results indicate that proficiency levels on the state test have risen 91.3 percent in math and 48.3 percent in reading — among the fastest in the nation,” Casserly said. “In fact, D.C. is the only one of the major cities to see double-digit growth in both their state reading and state math scores in secondary grades over the most recent three years.”