A major international study has found Ireland’s students are among the top performers in reading literacy.
The publication of Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results for 2018 showed students significantly above average in reading, science and mathematics.
The results show Ireland’s 15-year-olds are among the best in reading literacy and are performing significantly higher than the OECD average in mathematics and science.
In 2018, Ireland ranked 4th out of 36 OECD countries and 3rd out of 27 EU countries for reading literacy, and 8th out of 77 countries/regions involved in Pisa.
In Ireland, the difference between schools in student performance in reading literacy is less than half of what it is, on average, across OECD countries.
The results also found that girls perform better than boys in reading, with a difference of 23.2 score points.
Girls also perform slightly better than boys in science but the results are not considered statistically significant.
In mathematics, Irish students ranked 16th out of 37 OECD countries and 21st out of 78 participating countries/regions.
Education Minister Joe McHugh says the results show the government’s focus on creating an equitable education system is working.
“It is particularly heartening to see how the variation between schools is significantly lower than other countries in these Pisa results,” he said.
“A large part of that success is down to the focus of Government on the Deis programme.
“Irish students have extremely high standards when it comes to reading, among the best there is.
“It is an envious position to be in and credit must go to the education initiatives being promoted by the department like the National Strategy on Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life (2011-2020) and how these are adopted by our schools, thanks to the dedication of our teachers.
“Overall, in maths and science results are relatively stable and our students are performing at an above average level, yet we can improve further.
“I am confident that the changes which the Junior Cycle is bringing will help the development of our students’ critical thinking. It is no longer just about the facts and knowledge that we teach our young people but helping them see how they can put that into use.
“The Government is committed to promoting the uptake of STEM in post-primary and a key focus is increasing participation of young women.
“We will be taking account of the Pisa results in considering actions in the next STEM implementation plan from 2020.”
Pisa is a computer-based testing format that takes place every three years.
About half of the 5,000-plus Irish students who sat the tests had previous experience in this type of testing.