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Irish students are Best Performers in Reading Literacy

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 05/12/2023. Irish students are Best Performers in Reading LiteracyTags: Teachers Parenting

Minister Foley welcomes the publication of PISA 2022 results, showing students significantly above average in mathematics, reading and science. Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, Tuesday 5th December 2023, launched the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 results which show Ireland’s 15 year-olds are the best in reading literacy in the EU and the OECD. They are also performing significantly higher than the OECD average in mathematics and science.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a project of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which Ireland is a member. PISA takes place every three years and aims to measure how well 15 year-old students are performing in three areas – reading, mathematics and science. The main study data collection of the eight cycle of PISA was due to take place in 2021 but was postponed by one year due to COVID-19 and also moved from spring to autumn testing in Ireland.

The key findings of the 2022 assessments include:
Irish students are the best performing in reading literacy among the 37 countries in the OECD and the 26 EU countries.

• Irish students are significantly above the OECD average in all three domains – reading literacy, maths literacy and science literacy.
• Ireland’s placing amongst the 81 countries taking part in the PISA project has improved in all three domains since 2018.
• In reading literacy, we have moved from eighth place to second place among the 81 countries.
• In science literacy, we have moved from twenty-second place to twelfth place
• In mathematical literacy, we have moved from twenty-first place to eleventh place.
• There are considerably fewer low-performing students in Ireland in reading, science and mathematics compared to the average across OECD countries.
• Both male and female students in Ireland significantly outperformed the OECD average in all three domains.

Minister Foley said:
“The results are extremely positive news for Ireland. We have retained our place among a small set of high achieving countries at a time where particular strain was put on school communities globally due to COVID-19. We have also ensured that the number of low achieving students remains amongst the lowest in the 81 countries tested.
“PISA 2022 was delayed by one year due to the impact of COVID-19 on our education system. The pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, but the resilience shown by schools during this time is to be commended. I want to particularly pay tribute to the dedication of teachers and school leaders to provide a stable and supportive learning environment for all our students. Well done of course to the students themselves who have demonstrated remarkable focus and determination to deliver such impressive results."

In total 5,569 students in 170 schools in Ireland participated in PISA 2022. The tests were held in October and November last year. In total, 600,000 15-year-olds took the PISA tests in 81 countries/economies, including 37 OECD countries (26 EU Countries).

• The overall performance in science showed a significant increase in comparison to the 2018 PISA results, with an increase of almost eight points.
• The overall performance in reading literacy remained stable compared to the 2018 PISA results.
• Ireland’s average performance in mathematics declined significantly by 8 points since 2018, but this was below the average 15 point decline across OECD countries during the same time period. The change in overall mathematics performance from previous cycles merits further investigation. Follow-up reports from the Educational Research Centre (ERC), which administers PISA on behalf of the Department of Education, should provide a basis for decision making in this regard.

Minister Foley said the launch of the PISA results today gives us a unique snapshot into how 15-year-old students in Ireland apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school in mathematics, reading and science to real-life problems and situations.

“Irish students have extremely high standards when it comes to reading, among the best there is. There was only one other country, Singapore, that had a significantly higher average performance. The overall trend in our reading performance ‎has remained stable between 2018 and 2022.
“For science, it is fantastic to see how well we have done with a significant improvement between 2018 and 2022. Only 2 per cent of the Irish students who took PISA 2018 had experienced the new Junior Cycle science curriculum. We are now seeing the effects of the specifications in the system and will continue to see this develop over time.
“Our mathematics results have declined since 2018 but comparator countries such as Poland, Finland and Sweden have experienced a steeper decline than Ireland. We have managed to move from twenty-first to eleventh place in the listings for mathematics and our students are still performing at above average level. We can learn from these results and put measures in place to help to further develop our students’ critical thinking”.

Despite the challenges experienced by the Irish education system since the previous cycle of PISA, students in Ireland continued to perform very well in PISA 2022 in relation to OECD and EU averages. This is especially true in the domain of reading, where performance compared very favourably to those of our selected comparator countries, as well as to the OECD average. Despite above average performance in science and mathematics, Ireland has average or below average proportions of higher-achieving students in these domains indicating a challenge remains in supporting students to maximise their potential at the highest levels of proficiency in these areas. There is scope to make progress on this through ongoing developments in curriculum, pedagogy and policy. The Department of Education has established a working group to develop a policy on students who are exceptionally able or gifted.

In Ireland, there was no significant gender difference in science. But female students significantly outperformed their male counterparts in reading literacy while male students had significantly higher mean scores than female students in mathematics. Given the gender difference, particularly in favour of females in reading and males in mathematics, the Educational Research Centre report suggests that it would be worthwhile to improve self-belief among male students in reading literacy and female students in mathematics.

Minister Foley said:
“The Government is committed to promoting the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in our schools with a particular focus on females and the improvement of literacy, numeracy and digital literacy for all learners. We will take account of the PISA results in considering the implementation of actions from the STEM Education Implementation Plan and in the development of a new literacy, numeracy and digital literacy strategy.”

Source: Dept of Education


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