Paper Based FAQs

Q: What are the Level 1 Drumcondra Tests and what do the results mean?

The Level 1 Drumcondra tests are screening tests. The results tell you whether your child’s score has met the criterion or has not met the criterion. To reduce the pressure experienced by young children, STen scores are not reported at this level.

If your child’s score has met the criterion, then their score is within or above the average range for First class pupils in Ireland, indicating that their level of proficiency in reading or mathematics is likely to be within or above the average range also.

If your child’s score has not met the criterion, then their score is either in the ‘low average’ range (‘Approaching criterion’) or in the ‘below average’ range (‘Criterion not reached’). The reading / mathematics progress of children with scores in these ranges is likely to need careful monitoring. In particular, children whose scores are in the ‘below average’ range are likely to be at risk of difficulties with reading / mathematics, and follow-up diagnostic testing may be useful.

When looking at your child’s scores, it is important to remember that any result from a standardised test is only an estimate. That is, it only represents a sample of the child’s performance, on a particular day, and with a particular set of test questions. Therefore, there is a margin of error associated with each test score. More generally, the test score is just one piece in a larger jigsaw of information about your child’s progress.

If you are concerned about your child’s test result, please speak to their class teacher, who will be able to put the result into a broader context. For example, scores that fall close to a criterion threshold (on either side) may need to be interpreted with extra caution. The teacher may also be able to draw on other sources of information (e.g. class tests, homework assignments, class participation) to help you to interpret the test result.

Q: What are the answer sheets for the Reading and Maths tests?

Answer sheets are used with levels 3–6 of the New Reading and Maths tests for pupils to mark their responses to questions in the test booklets. Use of the answer sheets means that test booklets for these levels can be re-used each year, as no markings need to be made in them.

Q: Do I need to order separate answer sheets for Reading and Maths?

No – answer sheets are sold in packs that contain 25 Reading and 25 Maths sheets. These two sheets are connected in a booklet format, but can easily be separated into two individual answer sheets.

Q: How do I apply for the machine-scoring service?

There is no need to pre-apply for machine scoring of tests. After administering the Reading or Maths tests with 3rd–6th class, the answer sheets filled in by pupils can be returned to the ERC Test Department, along with one of the processing forms that would have been delivered with your order. The answer sheets will then be corrected, at cost of €1.00 per pupil per subject, and a report returned to you by post and email within ten working days.

Q: Can I get samples of the paper tests?

There are samples available for Drumcondra tests, but they must be purchased by submitting an order form by email, fax or post. There are separate sample packs for each test that cover all relevant classes.

Q: What are the scoring booklets/scoring stencils used for?

Scoring booklets and scoring stencils are correction aids used to score the Drumcondra tests. While tests can be corrected using the answer keys in the administration manuals, the scoring booklets/stencils are an alternative that can make the process quicker and easier.

Q: The tests I’m looking for don’t appear to be on the order form.

There are currently two separate order forms for Drumcondra tests – one for the new Reading and Maths tests (including an Irish-language Maths test for Gaelscoileanna), normed in 2018, and one for any tests developed before 2018. These pre-2018 tests include: Spelling; Irish (both for English-medium schools and Gaelscoileanna); Early Literacy and Early Numeracy; and the previous versions of Maths and Reading, normed in 2006/2007.

Q: Can a parent/guardian view their child’s test answers?

Yes, to comply with GDPR, our position would be that parents/guardians are entitled to view their child’s test script. This will be a booklet for Levels 1 and 2 (usually First and Second class) and an answer sheet alongside a blank booklet for Levels 3 to 6 (usually Third to Sixth class).

However, the content of the tests is confidential and it is important that it does not circulate among the general public. Other pupils and schools will use these tests in subsequent years, and in order to protect the integrity of the test norms, the content must be kept secure. We only sell tests to schools for this reason. 

Consequently, we would stipulate that the parent/guardian views their child’s answers under the supervision of a school staff member and does not photograph or photocopy the test content. If possible we would recommend that phones are left in a secure place (e.g. in the school office) while the test is being viewed.

Q: Why do the New Drumcondra Primary Tests use answer sheets for Levels 3 to 6?

The New Drumcondra Primary Reading and Mathematics Tests were designed to appeal to children in the target age groups and promote engagement. All of the new tests feature full colour, professionally designed illustrations, within a template that supports intuitive navigation of the booklets. In addition, the layout of the New DPMT places fewer questions on each page than its predecessor, to aid concentration.

These characteristics of the new tests result in higher production costs for the booklets. To minimise these costs being passed on to schools, the decision was made to use answer sheets for Levels 3 to 6 so that booklets could be reused at these class levels. Previous experience over a number of years with the Drumcondra Primary Reading Test–Revised and national research studies indicates that pupils can successfully complete assessments using answer sheets from Third class upwards. In the standardisation, more than 7,000 pupils from Third to Sixth class used answer sheets for the reading and maths tests with very few issues. 

There are also benefits to using answer sheets in terms of scoring the new tests. Schools can return answer sheets to the ERC for automated scanning and scoring and receive reports with overall scores and breakdowns by subscale. If schools prefer to hand score the answer sheets, scoring stencils are available as overlays for the answer sheets, so correct answers can be easily identified. Information on these scoring options, including pricing, is available here.