The proportion of 14-year-olds reaching the expected standard in English and science fell this year, according to provisional national school test results published today.
But there was an improvement in the results for maths.
The figures showed that 73 per cent of pupils reached Level 5 in English, compared with 74 per cent last year.
In science the figure was 71 per cent, compared with 73 per cent last year.
In maths, 77 per cent of pupils reached Level 5 compared with 76 per cent last year.
The results give a picture of how well 14-year-olds across England are performing.
But breakdowns of results by local authority are not being published because of a lack of data available in all three subjects in every area of the country.
Today's publication follows the fiasco which saw online delivery of results to schools delayed because of problems with marking and inputting data.
Contractor ETS Europe has been widely criticised for its handling of the tests.
Schools minister Jim Knight congratulated pupils and teachers on their hard work in this year's Key Stage 3 tests.
He welcomed rises in the proportion of young people reaching the expected levels in writing and maths, which reversed last year's falls and put them back up to their highest ever levels.
He also welcomed improvements in results at the highest achievement levels, particularly maths.
But he said he was disappointed with the small fall in reading, which dropped two percent after a rise in 2007, and science, which dropped two percent after three years of increases.
Mr Knight said: "Schools' efforts mean that they are sustaining the significant improvements of the last decade - there are far fewer children below the expected level than 10 years ago and the brightest pupils are continuing to show good results, particularly in maths.
"Key Stage 3 is an important stepping stone to success at further study and life beyond the classroom.
"It is encouraging that most pupils are achieving at or above the expected standard for their age in all three subjects and almost a third are now achieving the highest levels in maths.
"But I am disappointed by the slight drops in English and science - reversing the rises of last year.
"We know there is more to do before all of our schools are truly world class and that every young person is reaching their full potential at age 14 and beyond."