Above average performance for Irish 15 year-olds in tests

Maths, science and reading literacy assessed

Irish students have performed well in international tests for literacy in maths, science and reading, with a particular surge in the results for science. “This is very good news but we could do better,” the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said on the release of the rankings.

Irish students have performed well in international tests for literacy in maths, science and reading, with a particular surge in the results for science. “This is very good news but we could do better,” the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said on the release of the rankings.

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 10:20

Irish students have performed well in international tests for literacy in maths, science and reading, with a particular surge in the results for science.

More than 5,000 15-year-olds from 82 schools were involved in the tests, with strong performances in reading literacy that put them in the well above the average category, according to the results of the 2012 Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) project.

Administered by the OECD, Pisa examines students in these three subject areas once every three years and produces country by country league tables based on performance. The tests in maths and reading are given as a traditional written exam but also in a computer-based form.

Ireland was well above OECD averages for print reading in 2012, ranking 4th out of 34 for OECD averages and 7th of the 65 countries taking part. And in digital-based reading literacy we were 5th of the 23 OECD countries providing theses tests and 9th of 32 countries doing so.

There was a sharp rise in science literacy for Irish students, a performance that ranked us 9th of 34 OECD and 15th of all 65 countries involved in Pisa.

Ireland was 13th among the 34 OECD countries and 20th of the 65 countries taking part for performance in print maths. And in computer-based maths we were ranked 15th of the 23 OECD countries providing these tests.

These results leave behind the deep disappointment of the 2009 Pisa results which saw our rankings well down in comparison to these results. There was a downside to the performance for 2012 however.

While hovering above OECD averages, there is little evidence of a gradual improvement between test years. Our print maths performance for example has not changed significantly since 2003 nor has the figures for print reading scores going back to 2000.

Overall it was considered a good performance, with room for improvement. “This is very good news but we could do better,” the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said on the release of the rankings.

“We need to be in the top 10 per cent,” he said.

The results showed however that Junior Cycle reform and changing educational policy should help to boost our performance in the coming years, he said. “That is the gestational time before you start to see the benefits of reform.”

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