Ireland has been ranked 15th in the OECD's test of the scientific capabilities of 15-year-old secondary school students.

Finland once again takes the top spot in the three-yearly study, followed by Hong Kong and Canada in second and third place.

The 2006 findings tested students on how much they knew about science and their ability to use scientific understanding to resolve problems. 57 countries were tested. 

The ASTI welcomed the findings in the highly influential study, saying Irish students were performing 'significantly above average.'

The ASTI said the achievement is all the more praiseworthy given that science has only been recently introduced at primary school.

The pupils surveyed would have begun to learn science at second-level and so would have had only three years of science education. 

The ASTI also said the survey results are significant because it says that there is a positive relation between actual expenditure per student and average student performance.  

Ireland is close to the bottom of the scale for spending per second-level pupil relative to GNP as was stated in the Forfás Annual Competitiveness Report 2007.  

The OECD will publish the full results 4 December.