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PISA Report Highlights Urgency of Reforming Teaching and Learning in Irish Schools

Commenting on the just-released results of Irish 15-year-olds on the computer-based assessment of problem solving in PISA 2012, ETBI Education Research Officer Pat O’Mahony said the report “is simply another indication of the urgent need to reform teaching and learning in Irish schools.”

“It is hardly surprising,” said Mr O’Mahony, “that the report found that, in terms of performance on tasks involving different types of problem-solving processes, students in Ireland are as likely to be successful on the knowledge-acquisition tasks as students on average across the 28 participating OECD countries, but significantly less likely to be successful on knowledge-utilisation tasks compared to the 28-country OECD.

“After all, the acquisition of knowledge, rather than the application of knowledge to solve personal and work-related problems, remains the clear focus of our school system long after many other OECD countries have abandoned this approach. For example, in both Queensland and New South Wales (Australia), the certification of student achievement has been undertaken without high-stakes examinations since the latter part of the 1970s.

“In a world where information is no more than the touch of mouse-button away, and where knowledge is being continuously updated, we have no option but to reform our schools in a way that will see students and teachers collaborating together in ensuring that young people acquire, not only the skills and competences they require to make the most of their education and their lives, but also the capacity to go on learning for the whole of their lives.”

In concluding his remarks, Mr O’Mahony said, “the PISA report also highlights the need to embed ICT in teaching and learning so that young people may be prepared for the reality of their lives in the 21st century. In this regard, there is real need for a more strategic and coherent approach to resourcing and building the capacity of schools to make the most of information technology to enhance teaching and learning outcomes.”

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