NAMER stands for National Assessments of Mathematics and English Reading. The Educational Research Centre (ERC) has designed, implemented and reported on these assessments at the request of the Department of Education and Skills since 1972.
While earlier National Assessments covered various class levels and domains, the Department of Education and Skills decided that, from 2009, National Assessments would be implemented in Second and Sixth classes, and would assess both English Reading and Mathematics.
What is NAMER?
NAMER involves the administration of assessments of English Reading and Mathematics to Second and Sixth Class pupils. These assessments are based on the Irish Primary School English and Mathematics Curricula and are developed by the ERC in conjunction with subject (matter) experts and teachers.
The National Assessments are secure tests (i.e. they are not available to teachers and schools). They are standardised using a national sample. For each cycle of NAMER, a small proportion of passages and test questions are retired. These are replaced with new passages and questions, which are piloted at the end of the school year preceding the administration of the assessments.
As well as measuring pupils’ achievement on the assessments, contextual information is gathered through the administration of questionnaires to pupils, parents/guardians, teachers and principals.
Why is NAMER carried out?
NAMER provides important information for policymakers on primary schools in Ireland. The assessments provide information on Reading and Mathematics achievement in primary school children as a group. The accompanying questionnaires provide context for this data. For example, what home behaviours or teacher strategies are associated with Reading and Maths performance?
NAMER is also used to understand Maths and Reading skill – for example, what types of questions do pupils find easy or difficult? This type of knowledge can be used to inform curriculum development and future test development as well as classroom teaching.
A good example of how NAMER can influence policy-making is the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy 2011-2020 (published by the Department of Education and Skills in 2011), which contained specific targets related to English Reading and Mathematics proficiency. These targets (for example, to increase the proportions of higher-achieving pupils in schools and reduce the proportions of lower-achieving pupils) were identified using findings from NAMER 2009. When pupils’ performance in NAMER 2014 demonstrated that the targets had been achieved, new targets were identified for 2020.
How is NAMER carried out?
NAMER is implemented by the ERC on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. Implementation is overseen by an advisory committee, which advises on all major aspects of the study. This includes the review of test instruments and questionnaires and providing input into national reporting.
A representative sample of schools is selected, reflecting a mixture of schools by size, location, type, and gender and socioeconomic composition. Schools are asked to nominate a staff member to act as NAMER coordinator and liaise with the ERC throughout the project.
Questionnaires and assessments are administered by class teachers. Current and retired Department of Education and Skills School Inspectors oversee the administration of the assessment in a percentage of schools. Questionnaires are administered in schools in March/April, and the Reading and Mathematics assessments are administered over two mornings in May/June. On one day, pupils in Second and Sixth classes complete a test of English Reading; on the other day they complete a test of Mathematics.
Who takes part?
Pupils in selected Second and Sixth classes, their parents, teachers, and school principals take part in NAMER.
Pupils complete assessments in Mathematics and English Reading as well as a pupil questionnaire. Parents, teachers, and school principals complete questionnaires. ID numbers are used to link assessments with questionnaires so that the learning environment can be better understood.
Some pupils may be exempted from NAMER. However, it is important that we assess a representative group of pupils. Therefore, we ask that any pupil that could take part should be allowed to do so. It is possible for a pupil to be exempted from one assessment and not the other (e.g., a pupil may complete the Maths assessment, but be exempted from the Reading).
Assessment frameworks aim to address three key questions:
- What is assessed
- How it is assessed
- Why it is assessed
The Mathematics and English Reading components of the National Assessments are based on separate assessment frameworks.
To access the assessment frameworks from previous cycles, click here.