DEIS

(Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools)

Work began in 2007 on an independent evaluation of the SSP (School Support Programme) ‎component of DEIS in primary and post-primary schools.  Since then, the evaluation has been ‎monitoring implementation of the programme and assessing its impact on participants.

Periodic monitoring of achievement and other pupil outcomes has been a key feature of the evaluation at primary level since 2006/07. In 2007, pupils took tests in ‎English reading and mathematics and completed a questionnaire about their attitudes to ‎school and leisure pursuits.  Their parents and teachers were also asked to complete brief ‎questionnaires.  In schools in the urban dimension of the SSP, pupils in Second, Third and ‎Sixth classes were involved and in the rural dimension of the SSP, Third and Sixth class ‎pupils were involved.  Testing was repeated in the same schools and with many of the same ‎pupils in the spring of 2010.  At this point, Fifth class pupils were added to the testing programme, the purpose of which ‎was to provide a second cohort of pupils for longitudinal study in the 3-year testing cycle ‎‎(i.e., 2nd to 5th class). Outcome data‎ showed that pupil achievement in urban schools had ‎increased significantly between 2007 and 2010 in both reading and mathematics at ‎all grade levels (Weir & Archer, 2011).  Testing was repeated ‎in the sample of urban schools in May 2013, and this revealed that ‎the ‎gains made between 2007 and 2010 had not only been ‎maintained but have been built ‎upon. A report describing cross-‎sectional and longitudinal ‎changes in pupils achievement ‎was published in late 2013‎ (Weir & ‎Denner, 2013).‎ A fourth ‎round of testing took place in May 2016 in a sample of 118 urban schools and ‎involving 17,000 students.‎ A report on the ‎outcomes of that exercise is now available (see Kavanagh, Weir & Moran, 2017).‎

Investigating the nature of disadvantage in rural areas represents an ongoing aspect of the Centre’s programme of work. Accounts of the evaluation in rural schools, ‎and characteristics of disadvantage in rural areas, are also available (Weir & McAvinue, 2013; Weir, Errity & McAvinue, 2015‎).  ‎The evaluation in rural schools revealed qualitative and quantitative differences in educational ‎disadvantage in urban and rural areas, and pointed to a much stronger relationship between ‎poverty and educational outcomes in urban DEIS schools than in rural ones. ‎

Implementation studies have been a key feature of the evaluation since the outset.‎ Weir and ‎Archer (2011) noted high levels of programme implementation in general in ‎participating ‎schools. This was particularly true in the case of school planning for DEIS. ‎Engagement with planning and target setting required in key areas ‎(e.g., in relation to ‎pupil ‎achievement and parent involvement) was found to be very high ‎among participating ‎schools. ‎In another implementation study,‎ Weir and McAvinue (2012) noted that the ‎programme had largely had the expected effects on class size in schools ‎participating in the ‎urban dimension of the programme. Analyses of more recent class size ‎data in urban DEIS schools have also been completed (Kelleher ‎& Weir, 2017).  ‎

At second level, in 2007/08, all participating schools were asked to facilitate a ‎questionnaire survey of all students in First year and Third year.  The questionnaire covered a ‎number of issues, including students’ experience of transition from primary to post-primary ‎school, their attitudes to school, their leisure activities, and their educational aspirations.  ‎Students’ responses revealed that, in general, they held very positive attitudes to school, ‎although a minority of ‘disaffected’ students was identified.

In 2012/13, all of the 195 second-‎level schools in the SSP were visited and interviews were ‎conducted with principals. The ‎visits also facilitated the administration of a questionnaire ‎concerned with implementation ‎issues including planning. Interview and questionnaire data, ‎along with feedback provided by ‎those that visited schools, formed the basis of an evaluation ‎report on implementation at second level  ‎(Weir, McAvinue, Moran & O’Flaherty, 2014).  That report also described socioeconomic and educational trends using data provided by ‎the ‎DES and the State Examinations Commission (e.g., Junior Cycle retention rates and ‎Junior ‎Certificate Examination performance) ‎in SSP and non-SSP schools since the ‎programme began.‎ Analyses of trend data in educational outcomes for more recent years ‎confirmed the earlier ‎findings (McAvinue & Weir, 2015). As with primary schools in the programme, the ongoing ‎evaluation will involve continued ‎monitoring of implementation and outcomes in participating ‎post-primary schools.‎

Last updated in June 2017

Publications by the Educational Research Centre (in reverse chronological order) related to the evaluation of DEIS:

  • Kavanagh, L., Weir, S., & Moran, E. (2017). The evaluation of DEIS: Monitoring achievement and attitudes among urban primary school pupils from 2007 to 2016. Report to the Department of Education and Skills. Dublin: Educational Research Centre. DOWNLOAD
  • Kelleher, C., & Weir, S. (2017). The impact of DEIS on class size in urban primary schools in 2014/15 with comparative data from 2010. Report to the Department of Education and Skills. Dublin: Educational Research Centre. DOWNLOAD
  • McAvinue, L., & Weir, S. (2015). The evaluation of DEIS at post-primary level: An update on trends over time in achievement and retention. Report to the Department of Education and Skills. Dublin: Educational Research Centre. DOWNLOAD
  • Weir, S., Errity, D., & McAvinue, L. (2015).  Factors associated with educational disadvantage in urban and rural areas. The Irish Journal of Education, 40, 94-110.
  • Weir, S. (2014). The evaluation of DEIS. Leadership+: The professional voice of ‎principals, 78, 15.‎
  • Weir, S. (2014). The evaluation of DEIS: Some interim outcomes. InTouch, 141, 36-37.‎
  • Weir, S. (2014). The evaluation of DEIS in rural schools. InTouch, 144, 59.
  • Weir, S., McAvinue, L., Moran, E., & O’Flaherty, A. (2014). A report  on the evaluation of  DEIS at second level.Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
    DOWNLOAD
  • Weir, S. & Moran, E. (with O’Flaherty, A.). (2014). The organisation of the delivery of learning ‎support and resource teaching in a sample of urban primary schools serving disadvantaged ‎pupils. Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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  • Weir, S., & Denner, S. (2013).  The evaluation of the School Support Programme ‎under DEIS: Changes in pupil achievement between 2007 and 2013.  Report ‎to the Department of Education and Skills.  Dublin: Educational Research ‎Centre.‎
    DOWNLOAD
  • Weir, S. & McAvinue, L. (2013).  The achievements and characteristics of pupils ‎attending rural schools participating in DEIS. Report to the Department of ‎Education and Skills.  Dublin: Educational Research Centre.‎
    DOWNLOAD
  • Weir, S., & McAvinue, L.  (2012). The impact of DEIS on class size in primary schools.  Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
    DOWNLOAD
  • Weir, S.  (2011).  A report on the first phase of the evaluation of DEIS.  Summary report.  Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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  • Weir, S., Archer, P., O’Flaherty, A., & Gilleece, L. (2011).  A report on the first phase of the evaluation of DEIS.Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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  • Weir, S., Archer, P., & Millar, D. (2009).  Educational disadvantage in primary schools in rural areas. Report No. 1: Analysis of English reading and mathematics achievement in schools in the rural dimension of the School Support Programme.  Report to the Department of Education and Science.  Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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  • Archer, P., & Sofroniou, N. (2008). The assessment of levels of disadvantage in Primary Schools for DEIS.  Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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  • Weir, S. (2006). A report on the procedures used to identify post-primary schools for inclusion in the School Support Programme under DEIS. Dublin: Educational Research Centre.
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In March 2014, the Educational Research Centre, in collaboration with the Department of ‎Education and Skills, hosted a day-long seminar entitled ‘Learning from DEIS’. The full text of ‎the Minister’s Speech, and videos of the presentations made by centre staff may be accessed below. ‎