Irish Students Top Maths Performers in EU
On the 9th of December, Norma Foley TD, the Minister for Education, welcomed the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2019) results which show Ireland’s second year students in post-primary school and its fourth-class pupils in primary school are performing significantly higher than the average of students in all countries taking the TIMSS tests in Science and Mathematics.
Ireland is the top performing EU country in Mathematics at both second year in post-primary and fourth class in primary. The performance in science at second year and fourth class is significantly higher than the TIMSS centre point. The performance of Irish students in Science and Mathematics has remained strong and stable over the past four years.
Girls and boys at second year and fourth class performed equally well in Science and Mathematics tests. TIMSS takes place every four years with the goal to measure how well second year and fourth-class students are performing in Science and Mathematics.
The key findings from the 2019 assessments include:
- The performance of Irish students in Science and Mathematics has remained strong and stable.
- Both second level and primary students in Ireland scored significantly higher than the average in both Science and Mathematics.
- Ireland has been identified as being the top performing EU country in Mathematics at both second year in post-primary and fourth class in primary.
- No significant gender differences in performance for Science or Mathematics at either level was discovered.
Minister Foley said: “Ireland has maintained its strong performance in Mathematics and Science across the TIMSS cycles with Irish students again ranked among the top performing European countries at fourth class in primary and second year in post primary. In particular, Ireland is the top performing EU country in Mathematics at both fourth class and second year.
“This high performance reflects the commitment and hard work of our school communities but also the significant efforts that have been put into the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, curricular review and redevelopment, the STEM Education Policy Statement and the Digital Strategy for Schools.
“It is also of note that there are no significant gender differences for Mathematics or Science, at either level. This is very positive given my Department’s focus on improvements in relation to gender balance in STEM.”
The results, which were published yesterday, reveal that the lower-achieving students performed higher than the average students in all countries taking the TIMSS tests in Mathematrics and Science at both levels and the results show equity in terms of schools’ performance generally.
Although, despite the high performance in second year and fourth-class Science and Mathematics, it is apparent that there is a true need for improvement in some areas. The findings consider that the highest performing students in Ireland in Science and Mathematics are under performing, relative to their peers in countries with a similar overall performance.
Minister Foley said “The results show areas that we need to focus on. For example, we need to stretch the performance of higher-achieving students. Concentrated efforts are required to improve the performance of higher achieving students in both subjects at both school levels. This is in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government to implement a strategy to support gifted and talented students at both primary and post-primary levels”.
The Minister also said “We must provide high-quality continuing professional development for teachers which incorporates a specific focus on extending ‘higher-achieving’ students, dedicated resources, and on promoting skills in Mathematics and in Science to include digital learning skills.
“With regards to the Junior Cycle developments, we are still in the early stage of implementation. The new approaches and emphasis on transversal skills, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning will take time to impact on students’ performance. However, it is interesting to note the relative strengths of new areas of the curriculum as a trend across Science and Mathematics.
“The Government is committed to providing a STEM education for all our learners that nurtures inquiry, critical-thinking and problem-solving capacities. The results from TIMMS 2019 will be taken in to account when considering actions in the next STEM Education Implementation Plan.
“I have just announced a further €50m investment for ICT in our schools. This brings the total investment to €210m since 2017. Now more than ever, it is vital that our learners become more and more adept at using technologies for education”.