Monday 5 December 2016

Irish children have improved their performance in Maths

Published 29/11/2016 | 10:23

Fourth class pupils ranked ninth out of 49 countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (picture posed)
Fourth class pupils ranked ninth out of 49 countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (picture posed)

Irish 10-year-olds have improved their performance in maths over the past four years, according to a new international survey.

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But there is still cause for concern about the outcomes for Ireland in maths and science, with certain consistent weaknesses  identified

Fourth class pupils ranked ninth out of 49 countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) - up from 17th out of 50 in 2011.

However, they were placed 19th out of 47 countries in science, showing very little improvement from 22nd place four years earlier.

In the same study, Irish second year students ranked ninth out of 39 countries, and 10th in science. There is no recent comparison, as it is 20 years since Ireland last participated in that  element of TIMSS.

The TIMSS data allows for comparisons both on the average performance of pupils and how higher and lower achieving students compare with their counterparts in other countries.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said while the trends were encouraging there is major room for improvement in maths and science.”

“While there has been some progress, it is clear that we have a long way to go if we are to achieve our ambition of being the best in Europe."

One of the worrying findings is that higher-achieving students in Ireland are underperforming relative to students elsewhere.

The minister said the results from TIMSS 2015 pointed to the need to focus on stretching the performance of higher-achieving students and better developing students’ skills and knowledge in areas such as geometry and physics.

Dr Aidan Clerkin of the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra Dublin, one of the authors of the report on Ireland, said improvements  in TIMSS were particularly notable among lower achieving students.

His colleague, Rachel Perkins, said one area where Irish students, in both fourth class and second year, showed  a relative strength was in Earth science.

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