A US company that specialises in exams is expanding its Irish operation as well as providing funding for research into new and better ways of assessing Irish students, in a €3.5m deal.
Prometric, which develops and delivers tests for more than 350 organisations internationally, including Ireland's driver theory test, is creating 40 new jobs at its Global Operations Centre in Dundalk, Co Louth, bringing its numbers to 147.
In a key move, nearly €1m of the investment is going towards a partnership with Dublin City University(DCU) to set up a Centre for Assessment and Research in Education (CARE), the first such in Ireland.
DCU president Professor Brian MacCraith said CARE would develop tests that would better assess the preparedness of Irish students, at all levels of education, in the areas of critical thinking and skills assessment, in addition to knowledge recall.
He said CARE would provide an objective voice in Irish education and strengthen Ireland's workforce.
It is coming at a key time, against the backdrop of moves to reform the Junior Certificate, including an end to total reliance on the traditional exams.
Teachers are opposed to the proposal that they take some responsibility for assessing their own students, but it is also generally acknowledged that there is a lack of expertise in Ireland around different forms of student testing.
The establishment of CARE coincides with the creation of the Institute of Education at DCU, arising from the incorporation of St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education into the northside Dublin university.