Huw Lewis welcomed a rise in exam results for 15 and 17-year-olds and said secondary schools were responding well to the calls for improvement.
New government statistics show a record all-time high of 52.7 per cent of 15-year-olds achieving the Level 2 threshold, including a GCSE grade A* to C in English or Welsh first language and mathematics in 2012/13.
This is 1.6 percentage points higher than 2011/12, the biggest year-on-year increase since 2010/11.
According to the data, 17-year-olds in Wales continue to perform well in A level and equivalent qualifications, with 96.5 per cent of those entering the equivalent to two A levels achieving the Level 3 threshold.
Across the country however the level of improvement varies. In 2012/13 Ceredigion had the highest percentage of 17-year-olds who entered the equivalent of two A levels achieving the Level 3 threshold (98.9 per cent), while Merthyr Tydfil had the lowest percentage (92.4 per cent).
Mr Lewis said: “These results show we are making clear improvements compared to last year.
“The final examination results show a strong performance for the Level 2 threshold, including a GCSE grade A* to C in English or Welsh first language and mathematics, which has increased year-on-year since 2007.
“Despite increasingly rigorous examinations, our students’ performance in GCSE and equivalent qualifications shows that the overall achievement of students in Wales has continued to improve.
“These 2013 results demonstrate that the education sector in Wales is responding well to our call for improvements in standards and performance across the board.
“The figures are at an all-time high. However, now is no time for complacency. We need to keep up the momentum on the improvement journey if our young people are to have the skills they need to succeed.”
The statistics come as a survey of parents in the Welsh capital show that schools have a long way to go to regain the confidence of the public.
The survey by Cardiff Council found that 45.4 per cent of households including children were not satisfied with the education service provided by the authority.
In 2011, education standards in Cardiff’s schools were ranked as “adequate” by Estyn. Council leaders say education is a priority and that they are working on improving standards across the board.