Comptroller and auditor general Kieran Donnelly’s new report shows pupils are achieving the required standards in literacy and numeracy in increasing numbers.
But while there has been marginal progress over the last few years, improvements do not appear to have been universal across the education system.
Some groups continue to lag behind and have achievement rates of considerably less than other comparable groups.
Mr Donnelly’s report on literacy and numeracy in schools revisits an issue he examined in 2006. Then, a significant number of children were not reaching established targets.
Since that time, levels of achievement have continued to increase in line with current targets. Variances according to socio-economic background, gender and residency persist, however.
By GCSE, 9,000 pupils are leaving full-time education not having achieved the required standards in English and maths.
Mr Donnelly said: “Regardless of how well the majority of pupils perform, however, it is also clear from our findings that unacceptably large numbers of pupils are failing to achieve even minimal levels in literacy and numeracy.”
Gerry Murphy, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, said: “We must move away from a culture of assessment followed by crisis to one where teaching professionals are skilled and motivated to deliver the curriculum with the educational benefits that will bring.”