While Irish students remain among the best readers in the developed world, and among the most capable at spotting ‘fake news’, more and more say they do not read for fun.
The findings are contained in the latest OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, which measure how well 15-year old students are performing in reading, maths, and science.
Reading literacy in Ireland continues to be among the highest in the OECD and EU countries, with Irish students also scoring highly in their ability to assess the credibility of digital texts, in this case an email.
Tested for the first time ever in PISA 2018, this is a positive result given than students will encounter large amounts of digital information of “variable quality and credibility in the future’,’ the report notes.
Students here also scored higher than the OECD average in their ability to use effective reading strategies for understanding and remembering.
However, almost half of the 5,577 students who took the computer-based assessment in March 2018 said that they never read for their own enjoyment — an almost 15% increase from the year 2000.
Reading for fun
Students who read paper books, and books in digital formats, had significantly higher scores in reading literacy than those who rarely or never read books.
Reading for fun was significantly higher among girls who took the assessment, and less frequent among students in DEIS schools when compared to non-DEIS schools.
Immigrant students were also less likely to report that they read for fun compared to non-immigrant students.
While the Irish education system was found to be more equitable than the OECD average, students in non-DEIS schools and students in fee-paying schools were found to have higher literacy scores.
Students’ scores in maths ranked Ireland sixteenth out of 37 OECD countries, and there was a smaller percentage of students achieving the lowest scores here when compared to the OECD average. However, the percentage of students receiving high scores in maths is significantly lower than the OECD average; 8.2% of Irish students performed at the top levels, compared to the OECD average of 10.9%.
In science, 5.8% of students performed at the top level in science, in line with the OECD average.
However, Ireland’s mean score in the subject is significantly higher than the OECD average.
There was also a “large and significant” decline in students’ science scores between 2012 and 2018.
More than a fifth (22.6%) of Irish students said they always feel under pressure from teachers to do well in exams, a national PISA question found. Almost 11% of students reported feeling physically sick thinking about exams.
More than 60% of students in Ireland reported that they are satisfied with their lives, a significantly lower percentage than the overall score across the OECD countries. Students in Ireland who do not use the Internet often are more likely to report feeling happy or lively than heavy Internet users.