Post-Primary Assessment and Diagnosis – English (PPAD-E)

Available from late Spring 2021

Introducing the PPAD-E

The Post-Primary Assessment and Diagnosis – English (PPAD-E) is a new standardised test of literacy in English for use in post-primary schools as a screening and diagnostic tool for assessing literacy skills.

This assessment has been developed by the Department of Education and Skills, through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in collaboration with the Educational Research Centre (ERC).

standardisation study involving a representative sample of over 1,700 first year students was carried out in autumn 2019 and the test is now available for administration to first year students, accompanied by autumn norms.


Future work on the PPAD-E is likely to entail the establishment of norms for other age and year groups, as well as an online version of some parts of the test.


Supporting Students in 2020

In order to support the cohort of students transitioning from primary to post-primary schools in the unique context of 2020, the DES made the new PPAD-E test freely available to all First Years in Irish post-primary schools in the autumn 2020 term. Due to various Covid-19-related disruptions since March 2020, it is likely that post-primary schools may have less complete information than usual about the literacy skills and needs of their in-coming First Years. It is hoped that a timely assessment using the PPAD-E can help to bridge this information gap.

Please note that registration for access to free PPAD-E materials for the 2020 First Year cohort is now closed. This assessment will be available to order from the ERC for next year’s first year cohort from late Spring in 2021.

For further information contact:

The need for PPAD-E

The PPAD-E has been developed by NEPS in direct response to needs identified by schools.

Currently, tests of English literacy in use in post-primary schools are typically tests with UK or US norms. These tests have a number of limitations, such as their high cost, cultural inappropriateness, limited utility/narrow focus, time consuming nature (many individually administered), poor ability to differentiate between very weak or very able readers, and inappropriate age ceilings.


NEPS psychologists, through their ongoing work in schools, are aware that schools want a tool which is cost-effective, easy to administer and score, and can be used for a range of purposes. The PPAD-E is ultimately intended to be used from First Year intake across the age-range in post-primary schools. It is a screening and diagnostic tool that assesses literacy skills consisting of five subtests.

Features of the PPAD-E: 

The test is:

  • culturally appropriate and tailored to the Irish context

  • designed for use by teachers

  • helpful for screening for difficulties (particularly at first year intake)

  • useful in diagnostic assessment, monitoring and evaluating progress

  • can help identify if further assessment might be needed (e.g. speech & language)

  • helpful in contributing to the processes for RACE/ DARE/ Exemption from Irish

  • useful in establishing and reviewing literacy standards

Scoring and reporting tool

The PPAD-E has a secure software application that converts raw scores to standard scores and generates group and individual summary reports. A range of suggestions outlining evidence-based SET interventions and research-validated in-class approaches will be provided based on student score profiles.

The suggested interventions and in-class approaches are based on the 2019 edition of the NEPS publication, Effective Interventions for Struggling Readers, a freely available on-line resource designed for Irish schools.

Design of the PPAD-E

The complete test package includes five subtests:

  • Word reading

  • Spelling

  • Reading speed

  • Reading comprehension

  • Writing samples.


All but the Word Reading test are group-administered. (Word Reading is individually administered). The assessment requires an hour to administer, plus 3-4 minutes per student for the Word Reading test.

The tests have been developed in parallel (yellow and blue) versions, to allow for test/retest data.

Teacher Training

Free teacher training has been developed by NEPS and the ERC and will be available on-line, complemented with step-by-step printed manuals. This allows teachers to access the necessary training, without the need to attend a training course (thereby eliminating difficulties of logistics, travel and timetabling and avoiding the need for teachers to be absent from school for any period of time). This teacher training is highly accessible and will be supplemented by on-going support from NEPS and an email-based query service (


Information sheets for parents, students and teachers

Editable information sheets can be downloaded for students, parents and teachers in both English and Irish – see links below. These information sheets are an optional resource that schools can use or adapt as needed, in line with their school assessment policy.

Sample PPAD-E information letter for Students

Sample PPAD-E information letter for Parents

Sample PPAD-E information letter for Teachers

Litir eolais samplach do Dhaltaí

Litir eolais samplach do Thuismitheoirí

Litir eolais samplach do Mhúinteoirí