The education ministry has made public the prefecture-by-prefecture average scores of annual nationwide achievements tests carried out in April. The tests, which were begun in 2007 and cover sixth graders at elementary schools and third-year students at junior high schools, gauge their basic knowledge in Japanese, mathematics and science as well as their ability to apply the knowledge.

The ministry boasts that the gap between the average scores of the bottom three prefectures and the national average has narrowed from last year.

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