The data emerging from a study conducted in 50 countries provides some comfort following the fall in the rankings of Irish 15-year-olds at similar subjects two years ago.
More than 4,500 fourth-class pupils at 151 schools were tested as part of the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) exercise last year. The results show that Irish children ranked:
* 10th out of 45 countries for reading;
* 17th out of 50 countries on maths;
* 22nd out of 50 countries in science.
Boys and girls scored similarly at maths and science, but girls were significantly better at reading, in line with international trends.
Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, said we could not be complacent.
“In all three tests, pupils in a number of countries are performing significantly above the performance of Irish students. We need to build on the good work in reading going on at primary level into second level, especially at junior cycle.
“Clearly, we also need to improve our teaching of maths and science at all levels. However, I am especially delighted to see that Ireland has a reduced proportion of lower-performing students in reading than other countries.”
Just 3% of Irish pupils were below the minimum benchmark standard for reading, compared to 5% on average across all countries.
The 6% who failed to reach the low international benchmark in maths compares to a 10% average internationally. The 8% of Irish pupils who fell below the minimum standard at science was the same as the proportion in all participating countries.
The Irish Primary Principals’ Network said the results were encouraging, but should be treated as a call to action.
“Irish pupils, supported by quality leadership in our primary schools and capable teachers, are making the grade, but the fact that we still trail other countries means that there is room for improvement,” said IPPN director Seán Cottrell.
The IEA’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study were carried out for the Department of Education by the Educational Research Centre at St Patrick’s College in Dublin. There is no comparative data on reading as it is Ireland’s first time taking part.
1. Which group of animals contains ONLY reptiles?
A lizard, frog, snake
B turtle, lizard, crocodile
C octopus, snail, turtle
D crab, earthworm, snake
2. Calcium is a mineral that helps make your bones and teeth strong. Which of these foods is the best source of calcium?
A sweets, B rice, C cheese, D meat
3. A hot, boiled egg is put into a cup of cold water. What happens to the temperature of the water and the egg?
A The water gets colder and the egg gets warmer.
B The water gets warmer and the egg gets colder.
C The water temperature stays the same and the egg gets colder.
D Both the water and the egg get warmer.
1. In a soccer tournament, teams get 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for a loss. Zedland has 11 points. What is the smallest number of games it could have played?
2. Mary left Apton and rode at the same speed for two hours. She reached the sign pictured below. She continues to ride at the same speed to Brandon. How many hours will it take her to ride from the sign to Brandon?
A 1.5 hours, B 2 hours, C 3 hours, D 3.5 hours
3. Paint comes in 5 litre cans. Seán needs 37 litres. How many cans must he buy?
A 5, B 6, C 7, D 8
1. B — 51% of Irish pupils and 39% of international children got this right
2. C — 70% of Irish pupils and 46% of international children got this right
3. B — 29% of Irish pupils and 34% of international children got this right
1. 5 games (3 wins and 2 draws) — 39% of Irish pupils and 27% of international children got it right
2. C — 35% of Irish pupils and 37% of international children got it right
3. D — 55% of Irish pupils and 44% of international children got this one correct