PISA Study Suggests Ireland Fails To Challenge High Ability Students

The Educational Research Centre (ERC) recently published a report on the Irish results on the OECD PISA international study of mathematics. The following quote is from this report:

“However, Ireland has significantly fewer students at the higher proficiency levels (at/above Level 5) than the OECD average (6.7% compared to 12.7%), the United Kingdom (9.8%) and Poland (10.4%). There are also proportionally more high-achieving students in Northern Ireland (10.3%) than in the rest of Ireland (6.7%). The percentage of high-achieving students in Ireland is also much lower than the corresponding percentage in Finland where 21.6% of students achieved at Level 5 or 6.”

“This pattern of results suggests that Ireland’s low average performance is, in part, attributable to the comparatively low performance of higher-achieving students.”

This supports an oft mentioned concern that high ability students in this country are not being challenged enough by the present curriculum. The poor performance of Irish students in the annual Math and Science Olympiads also support this view. It suggests more should be done to provide for high ability students within the school system.

Full report: A Summary of the Performance of Students in Ireland on the PISA 2009 Test of Mathematical Literacy and a Comparison with Performance in 2003, Gerry Shiel, Gráinne Moran, Jude Cosgrove and Rachel Perkins, Dublin: Educational Research Centre, 2010.

Other PISA reports can also be found on the ERC website.

Many thanks to Sean Close, research associate at the ERC and longtime advocate for gifted children in Ireland, for the information and comment above.

by Catherine Riordan