Evaluations of Educational Provision and Services
Surveys of provision and practice are conducted by the Centre at all levels of the educational system. These investigations include topics as diverse as the organisation of learning support teaching, teachers’ perceptions of girls and boys in schools, take-up of Transition Year in second-level schools, aspects of teacher in-career development, the nature and extent of dropout in third-level institutions, and issues related to ICTs in schools.
Evaluations of Initiatives and New Programmes
Evaluations of initiatives and new programmes in schools to improve the learning and life chances of students in socially-disadvantaged situations are an ongoing focus of work. Completed projects include the evaluations of the Rutland Street Project, Breaking the Cycle, Early Start, the Home-School-Community Liaison Scheme and a review of Giving Children an Even Break. Current projects include evaluations of Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) and two programmes designed to improve mathematics achievement in primary schools.
Critical Analysis of Issues in Education
Research is conducted on a number of critical issues in education, including equality of opportunity, the relationship between education and work and factors associated with early school leaving. The design of a number of Department of Education and Skills (DES) schemes to address educational disadvantage has been influenced by studies of the extent and geographical distribution of disadvantage (e.g., Breaking the Cycle, Giving Children and Even Break, DEIS). These studies provided a basis for assessing levels of disadvantage in individual schools and were used to select schools for participation in the schemes.
Analysis of Public Examination Results
The Centre has on several occasions carried out analyses of the results of public examinations (Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate). A report on the comparability of grades awarded in Leaving Certificate subjects was prepared for the Task Force on the Physical Sciences. Studies have been carried out on (i) the impact of examination components on total score in the Leaving Certificate Examination; (ii) relationships between performance on Certificate examinations and performance on international assessments of educational achievement; (iii) the comparability of grades across subjects and over time in the Leaving Certificate Examination. Analyses of the relationship between performance on the Junior Certificate Examination and subsequent performance on the Leaving Certificate Examination have also been conducted.
National Assessments of Educational Achievement
As part of the Centre’s role in monitoring the outcomes of education, national surveys of achievement at primary level have been carried out in association with the DES. The surveys have been conducted in the areas of English (reading), Irish (reading and oral language) and mathematics.
International Assessments of Educational Achievement
International assessments of educational achievement have been conducted since the 1980s. Early examples include the First and Second International Assessments of Educational Progress in Mathematics and Science, the IEA Study of Reading Literacy, the International Adult Literacy Study and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. Ireland participates in, or has recently taken part in, five international assessments. These are:
Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS, 2011; every 5 years, Fourth-class pupils)
Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS, 2011; every 4 years, Fourth-class pupils)
The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS, 2009; Second-year students)
The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS, 2008; teachers of Third-year students)
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, every three years starting in 2000; 15- and 16-year-olds)
Development of Assessment Instruments
Work is carried out on an ongoing basis on the development of tests and profiling systems which teachers can use to assess pupils in primary and post-primary schools. These include the Drumcondra Primary Reading Test (DPRT-R), the Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test (DPMT-R), the Drumcondra Reasoning Test (DRT), Triailacha Ghaeilge Dhroim Conrach do Bhunscoileanna Rialta (TGD-R) agus do Bhunscoileanna Gaeltachta agus Lán-Ghaeilge (TGD-G), the Drumcondra Test of Early Literacy (DTEL) and the Drumcondra Test of Early Numeracy (DTEN). Tests may be obtained by schools from the Centre’s Test Department. Current work also includes development of tests of English, mathematics and science for use in Second year in post-primary schools.
Other work in which Centre staff are involved includes: consultancy to the DES on issues related to assessment, evaluation and research more generally, support and consultancy on research by other agencies, membership of working groups and other expert bodies, and publication of the Irish Journal of Education.