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Written Answers - Literacy Levels

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 62.  Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his views on the results for Irish schools in the OECD’s 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment tests, in which the country’s ranking fell significantly from previous comparisons and that students in vocational schools had an average reading score of 466 points, compared with 487 in community and comprehensive schools, 504 in non-fee-paying secondary schools, and 539 in fee-paying secondary schools; and if he will make provision in the literacy and numeracy strategy to address this matter. [19518/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I welcome the publication of the Educational Research Centre (ERC) report on PISA 2009 which summarises all of the valuable research that the ERC and experts from Statistics Canada have completed on the achievement of Irish students in PISA 2009 and I note that the report confirms the analysis of the PISA 2009 data that was carried out by the ERC and Statistics Canada on behalf of the Department in 2010. The report confirms the possible reasons that were given by the ERC to explain a portion of the decline in achievement recorded in 2009, including higher numbers of immigrants, higher numbers of students with special educational needs in mainstream classes, a drop in early school leavers, greater numbers of the students tested in Transition Year and the exceptionally low performance of students in eight schools.

The additional data in this report, which suggests that student engagement with the test, as distinct from student ability, may have been an important factor in the decline, is a further piece of valuable information that helps us to understand the PISA 2009 outcomes. The report also confirms that in Ireland, as in other countries throughout the OECD, socio-economic status is strongly correlated with educational achievement. This is reflected in the differences recorded between student achievement in different types of second-level schools and is one of the key reasons why my Department targets additional resources on schools within the DEIS programme. I am glad to note also that the ERC report endorses many of the actions that I included in the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy issued last July. The detailed recommendations in the ERC report will be of great assistance to me and my Department in implementing the actions in the Strategy.

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