The average score of Japanese elementary school students in global achievement tests in mathematics and science last year showed a marked rise from the previous survey in 2007.

The average score for the fourth-graders showed an upward trend for the first time since 1995 in the tests conducted every four years by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

The education ministry on Tuesday attributed the rise to changes in the curriculum guidelines in fiscal 2009 that led to an increase in hours spent on instruction.