Development of Tests for Primary and Post-Primary Levels
The Educational Research Centre develops standardised tests of achievement and ability, normed for an Irish population. Some tests are for commercial use – sold to schools – and others are retained for research purposes. The tests are designed to provide high quality, accurate information on the aptitudes and achievements of Irish pupils. Almost all of the tests have been specifically developed for an Irish population, and with reference to the relevant Irish school curricula. The tests draw on 40 years of experience in test development, and provide research-based, reliable information to schools.
In May 2013, the Centre completed the standardisation of paper-based tests of English reading and mathematics for students in Second year in post-primary schools. The standardisation study represented the culmination of two years of test development that involved the sourcing of test items from subject experts, the trying out of items in school settings including pilot studies in 2012, and the preparation of final test booklets.
The tests for Second years were developed in response to requests from schools, to indications in the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy 2011-2020 issued by the Department of Education and Skills in 2011, and to the Department’s Framework for the Junior Cycle, issued in 2012, that students in post-primary schools would soon be expected to sit standardised tests of English reading and mathematics on a yearly basis. Information on the tests, available to schools in early 2014, can also be found here.
While the tests are currently in paper-based format (as are all of the Centre’s tests), it is likely that, over time, they will be available as computer-based tests. Currently, there are four forms of each test – two targeted at students likely to take the corresponding Junior Certificate Examination subject at Higher level, and two targeted at students likely to take the examination at Ordinary or Foundation levels. Performance is reported on the same underlying scale, regardless of which level of the test a student sits.
The Framework for the Junior Cycle also made reference to standardised tests of science. In response to this, the Centre has recently begun work on a standardised test of science for students in Second year. It is intended to standardise this test in 2015 and to make it available to schools in 2016.
The Centre is currently reviewing its primary-level tests, including the Drumcondra Primary Reading Test (DPRT), and the Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test (DPMT). It is likely that these tests will be revised, in line with forthcoming changes to the primary school curricula in English and mathematics.