Scottish ministers recognised the need to drive up standards
Scottish pupils in the early years of secondary school are under-performing in maths and numeracy, according to a new government survey.
An estimated 30% of second year pupils met the expected standards or better in mathematics - compared to more than 85% for P3 pupils, it suggested.
In numeracy, more than 90% of P3 pupils meet or exceeded standards, compared to 45% for those in S2.
The Scottish Government said it recognised the need for action.
The figures were contained in the 2008 Scottish Survey of Achievement, which looked at 40,000 pupils across 1,200 Scottish schools to give a snapshot of achievement levels.
Scottish Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop recognised there were challenges to be met, adding: "We know we must reinvigorate how maths is taught in our schools, which is why the curriculum for excellence places numeracy at the heart of learning.
"Our new curricular approach will enrich learning and teaching in maths across all age ranges, increasing understanding and improving attainment.
"This will be reinforced by our commitment to introduce more rigorous assessment of numeracy on an ongoing basis in primary and through to secondary school."
Conservative education spokesman Liz Smith said the figures showed something was going "radically wrong" in the later years of primary school.
The Lib Dems' Margaret Smith added: "It doesn't take a maths genius to put two and two together to work out that something is going badly wrong."
Labour education spokeswoman Rhona Brankin said the survey showed SNP education policy was failing, and urged Ms Hyslop to "get her finger out".
The Scottish Government said more than 90% of pupils who left school achieved a maths qualification equivalent to a Standard Grade.
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, said he was "well aware" of the issues raised in the survey, while pointing out that deprivation had a major impact on pupil performance.
He added: "What is most significant and encouraging is that Scottish pupils continue to achieve particularly highly in mathematics in the later years of secondary, at Standard Grade level and beyond."