More Ontario children made the grade in the 3 Rs this year, with 67 per cent of elementary students scoring a B on the latest province-wide tests, edging closer to Queen’s Park’s goal of 75 per cent clearing the bar.

But new tracking data by the province’s testing body shows wild variation in how some pupils did over the past three years — with thousands pulling up their socks from Grade 3 to Grade 6 to Grade 9; thousands more falling below the mark and even more who stayed the same at either end of the scale.

More students saw their scores slip from Grade 3 to 6 in math than in reading or writing. A full 14 per cent of students met the standard in Grade 3 math but did not meet it by Grade 6. At the same time, 9 per cent did the opposite — pulled up their scores to a B between the two grades.

“Grade 6 math involves more complex reasoning and problem-solving than the more fundamental skills of Grade 3,” said professor Michael Fullan, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s adviser on education.

And the complex problems of Grade 6 math often involve language as well as numbers, he added, which can pose a challenge to students who struggle with English.

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said the province is offering more teacher training in math, but hailed the scores overall as good news.

“We’re the only Western jurisdiction that has had six years of steady improvement — and unlike other countries and even parts of Canada, Ontario’s standard is a grade of B, not just a pass,” said Wynne. “There are areas we need to focus on, particularly math, but overall, what we’re doing is working.”