GCSE results: Almost 1 in 10 achieve top grades in Northern Ireland
Almost one in 10 GCSE entrants have achieved top grades in Northern Ireland.
Rising numbers earned grades C or better and the proportion receiving A* increased by 0.1% to 9%.
Levels of performance in English and maths continued to rise - boys showed notable improvement - but girls were still ahead, exams body the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said.
The proportion of entries in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has grown by 3%.
The tally of entrants awarded A*-C grades has risen by 0.7 percentage points to 78.7%. Entries achieving A* - A have improved 0.4 percentage points to 28.6%, and the number achieving the top A* grade now sits at 9%, a slight rise of 0.1 percentage points on last year.
This year performance in mathematics improved with 66.6% of entries awarded A*-C, up 0.4 percentage points on 2014. Levels of achievement in English also improved with A*-C grades now representing 75.8% of entries in the subject, a rise of 2.8 percentage points.
The percentage of male entries achieving A*-C rose a full percentage point in 2015 to 75.1%. However, girls are still well ahead in GCSE performance, with 82.2% of all female entries gaining the A*-C grades, up 0.5 percentage points on last year.
Justin Edwards, chief executive of Northern Ireland's awarding organisation, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), said: "This year's results show a steady improvement in A*-C grades. Importantly the grades in English and mathematics have continued to build on the good performance of recent years.
"The general pattern of growth in Stem subjects that emerged last week at A level is repeated in today's GCSE figures. This is underpinned by notable growth in mathematics and ICT.
"It's also encouraging to see the improved performance of males this year, closing the gender gap at grades A*-C."
Education Minister, John O’Dowd said local young people have performed strongly yet again.
“Today is a huge milestone for thousands of young people and regardless of the outcome, all young people should be proud of the hard work they have put in over the last two years towards getting their GCSEs. These young people are now faced with important decisions on whether they continue on in school, further education, training or employment. Whatever choice they make, I wish them well on their next step.
“I would also encourage those who did not achieve the grades they had hoped for, to seek advice on where they go from here. There are many options available to you and your teachers and families can offer you guidance and advice."
He added: “However, we do need to continue raising the standards and closing the performance gap between the highest and lowest achievers in our society. We have ambitious targets for improving outcomes for pupils from socially disadvantaged areas and I remain committed to ensuring pupils from all sections of our society do well in education and are supported to achieve their full potential.”