Development of Tests

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. ‎