Irish Journal of Education, Vol. 26, 1992


This issue of The Irish Journal of Education contains a report of The Second International Assessment of Educational Progress in Mathematics and Science (IAEPII) which was carried out in 20 countries, including Ireland, in 1990-1991. International reports of the study are available (Lapointe, Askew, & Mead, 1992; Lapointe, Mead, & Askew, 1992). In the present report, results are presented with particular reference to Ireland.

Ireland has participated in a number of cross-national surveys over the past two decades. It was involved in the Six Subject Study (Passow, Noah, Eckstein, & Mallea, 1976), in part of the Second International Mathematics Study (Travers & Westbury, 1989), in the First International Assessment of Educational Progress in Mathematics and Science (Lapointe, Mead, & Phillips, 1989), and most recently in a major study of reading literacy involving more than 40 countries (Elley, 1992).

IAEPII involved the assessment of the mathematical and science achievements of 9- and 13-year old students. Data for the study in Ireland were obtained from students themselves, school principals, and teachers in 126 primary and 110 postprimary schools.

The main focus of the study was on th e 13-year old students, for which age group more comprehensive data were gathered. As a consequence, the national report for Ireland first presents the findings relating to the older age group followed by the younger in each subject. Chapter 2 deals with the mathematics performance o f 13-year-olds, Chapter 3 the 9-year olds’ mathematics results. Chapter 4 reports on the science achievements of 13-year olds; the performance of 9-year-olds is covered in Chapter 5. These chapters profile information on average student scores on different aspects of the tests, the performance of the highest and lowest scoring students, and results achieved by boys and girls. The performance of students in Ireland is compared with performance in other countries.

Chapter 6 presents information about 13-year old students: their attitudes, homes, schools, teachers, and countries. Similar information about 9-year olds in provided in Chapter 7. The concluding chapter (Chapter 8) summarizes the information provided by the study, explores possible relationships between various home and school background factors and achievement, and discusses the findings in relation to present and future educational policy and practice in Ireland. A comprehensive set of appendices includes detailed data summaries.

Many people assisted in this study. The Educational Research Centre wishes to acknowledge the assistance and support of the following in carrying out the study Tom Healy, Department of Education, for the provision of data on schools for sampling, Tomás Ó Cuilleanám, Linda Noonan, and Niamh Holland for liaising with schools and ñeld work, Sean Close, St Patrick’s College, Seán Mac Conmara, Department of Education, and Elizabeth Oldham, Tnnity College Dublin, for item reviewing, Mary Rohan for general organization, Patricia Hanlon for data entry, and Hilary Walshe who prepared the final copy of the manuscript The dedication, courtesy, and patience of the many school principals and teachers throughout the country, who gave so generously of their time, is very much appreciated. So too is the co-operation of the students who participated in the study.

Finally, gratitude is due Archie Lapointe, Nancy Mead, and the staff of the Center for the Assessment of Educational Progress at Education Testing Service, Pnnceton, New Jersey, who designed and managed the international aspects of the assessment.


Michael O. Martin , Brendan L. Hickey and Damian P. Murchan