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

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.

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

School Feedback

"I found the PPAD-E very user friendly. Instructions were crystal clear for both administering and correcting. More importantly though, the information gained about the literacy needs of our students was extremely precise and absolutely invaluable for moving forward and providing tailor-made interventions. I will most definitely be engaging with the PPAD-E into the future."

Laura Creegan, SENCO, Balla Secondary School, Balla, Co. Mayo.


"The PPAD-E test results are so easy to follow as they are presented in such a straightforward format. The PPAD-E gives valuable information on the type of difficulties that many of our incoming students experience. Not only this, but it generates possible recommendations/supports, based on the students' scores, for both subject teachers and SET teachers. I was able to add these reports to the Student Support files where they can be accessed by the relevant teachers. The class reports are automatically generated which is a great feature of the PPAD-E."

Helen Ahern, SET Coordinator, Colaiste Nano Nagle, Limerick

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.

A successful initial roll-out of the assessment to schools was undertaken in autumn 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. Going forward, there is a charge for the PPAD-E assessment, in line with other ERC tests.

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

For further information contact:

About the PPAD-E

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.

Design of the PPAD-E

The complete test package includes five subtests:

  • Word reading

  • Spelling

  • Reading speed

  • Reading comprehension

  • Writing samples.

Online scoring and reporting tool

A unique feature of the PPAD-E assessment is the accompanying secure online "scoring and reporting tool" 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.

Reporting for the tests is ONLY available via our online scoring and reporting tool. You will be required to sign a data processor agreement (DPA) when ordering test materials.


Data Security in the PPAD-E online tool

The DPA sets out the manner in which the PPAD-E data will be processed by the ERC on behalf of your school. Please be reassured that the PPAD-E test data is never used to compare schools with one another.

The DPA sets out that data stored in the PPAD-E scoring and reporting tool are secure and stored and accessed in accordance with the GDPR. The data are stored in an encrypted server located in Ireland. The fields within the database containing personally identifying student data, e.g. student name, are encrypted.

The tool facilitates the secure transfer to the ERC of anonymised records of numbers of students participating in the assessment along with scores. This anonymised student-level information, which contains only numeric school IDs and subtest scores and no student-level IDs or other student-level information, is used for two purposes: (i) to know how many schools are using the test, so that we can manage the printing and supply of the PPAD-E materials for subsequent years and (ii) to allow future development or revision of the PPAD-E test.

The login credentials to access this encrypted database are stored in on ERC’s secure server and access is restricted to authorised project and IT staff. The only occasions where ERC would use the database encryption key are (i) in the event of system failure, (ii) where software redevelopment is required, or (iii) under written instruction from a school.

Teacher Training

Teacher training has been developed by NEPS and the ERC and will be available online video training of all aspects of the assessment are available to schools purchasing assessment materials, 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 is supplemented by on-going support from NEPS and an email-based query service

Re-using PPAD-E assessment materials

Please note that any PPAD-E materials retained by schools since last year can be used for the upcoming 2022 administration also. A minimum requirement for all schools administering the assessment in autumn 2022 is the purchase of an annual licence to access the PPAD-E scoring and reporting tool.

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