THE BRONX - Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrated with top education officials and parents Monday after the state Regents chancellor announced significant improvements on state math exams.

Bloomberg says 81.8 percent of New York City elementary and middle school students scored at or above grade level on math exams, compared with 88.9 percent statewide. The mayor says the scores showed a narrowing achievement gap between city students and their peers in the rest of the state. Students in third grade through eighth grade take the math tests.

The mayor says eighth-grade black and Hispanic students scored higher this past year than any other year since 2002. Parents say they are proud and excited for their children to continue improving.

Bloomberg took over the school system in 2002 when merely 52 percent of fourth-graders and 29.8 percent of eighth-graders scored at grade level on math tests. Many parents say they support Bloomberg maintaining control of the Department of Education to ensure their children meet state standards.

AP wire services contributed to this article.