Bruton counts on pupils to hit higher standards in maths and reading skills
Higher standards are being set for reading and maths performance among school pupils, after better-than-expected results from the 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy.
Many of the targets set out in the 10-year strategy by the Department of Education have been met in a little over half of its lifetime.
All the targets set for reading and maths at primary level were reached, and significant progress has been made towards achievement of the targets at post-primary, a review found.
The findings back up recent strong results for Ireland from two international student assessments - the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS).
However, while the overall progress is encouraging, a number of areas have been identified as needing attention.
One particular focus of the revised plan will be numeracy skills, as feedback suggests that there may have been a greater focus on literacy than numeracy and a stronger focus on numeracy is now warranted.
Another priority is the raising of standards in disadvantaged areas, with for the first time, specific targets for literacy and numeracy for schools in the DEIS programme.
Greater attention will also be paid to enabling the best students to reach their full potential, in light of strong messages from national and international assessments indicating that the attainment of higher-achieving Irish learners lags behind their international counterparts.
Additional emphasis will also be placed on gaining improvements in literacy for and through the Irish language, and on also enhancing the digital literacy skills.
Revised targets include 50pc of sixth-class pupils performing at the highest levels in reading and maths by 2020, up from 40pc in the 2011 strategy - and the 46pc and 42pc respectively achieved by 2014.
In disadvantaged area schools, the target is for 27pc of sixth-class pupils to be performing at the highest levels in reading and maths by 2020, compared with 21pc and 19pc in 2014
Education Minister Richard Bruton said while Ireland was performing very well in reading, there was room for improvement in maths.
He said the Action Plan for Education aimed to further improve performance so as to significantly reduce the gap with the top European performers in maths and science in particular.
The minister referred to the proposed new maths curriculum at primary, including computational thinking, creative thinking skills and coding, and reviewing the structure and time allocation of the primary maths curriculum, as a whole, as well as new curricula for Irish. He also said a policy on science, technology, engineering and maths education would be adopted.