Irish school children were among the top of class in a series of tests carried out to compare the abilities of 15-year-olds in more than 60 countries.
The tests involve more than 500,000 children in developed countries that between them account for 80% of the world’s economy.
The main focus was on core subjects including literacy, maths and science.
Irish children came 7th out of the 65 countries taking part for print reading tests, and 9th in the digital-based literacy tests.
They were 15th for science, and 20th for maths.
The tests were part of the PISA project – the Programme for International Student Development, which is administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Education vital for Ireland’s development
The results show a significant improvement compared to when the tests were last carried out in 2009.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, said: “This is very good news but we could do better.
“The results showed however that Junior Cycle reform and changing educational policy should help to boost our performance in the coming years. That is the gestational time before you start to see the benefits of reform.”
The Irish children performed better than their peers in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
However, they were still a long way behind the leading nations from Asia. Shanghai came top of the table, followed closely Singapore and Hong Kong.
The improvement by Irish children will be welcomed by the government and by education policy makers.
Improving core skills in literacy, maths and science are seen as crucial in helping Ireland’s economy to develop over the next decade.