Canadian students among the best in science, mathematics, and reading, major OECD study concludes

    TORONTO, Dec. 4 /CNW/ - A major international study released by OECD
shows that Canadian 15-year-old students rank among the best in science,
mathematics, and reading. The Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA), conducted in 2006 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD), tested over 400,000 students in 57 countries and
    Canada released its own report today on the PISA results, providing
detailed information on student performance in each province. The report
indicates that the performance of Canadian students is well above the
international average in all three subject areas. In fact, Canadian students,
on average, finished in the top tier of all countries surveyed in every domain
tested in the assessment.
    In science, only two countries/economies, Finland and Hong Kong-China,
surpassed Canadian students in overall test scores. Canada's results in
mathematics fall within a group of high-ranking countries that includes Japan,
New Zealand, and Belgium. Staying on course with past results in PISA, Canada
maintained a strong performance in reading, placing fourth after Korea,
Finland, and Hong Kong-China.
    The primary focus of the 2006 study was science, with a secondary focus
on mathematics and reading. Questionnaires on student and school factors were
also administered to gather data that help explain differences in performance.
    "In three core subjects - science, mathematics, and reading - students in
Canada are among the best in the world," noted the Honourable Kelly Lamrock,
New Brunswick's Minister of Education and Chair of the Council of Ministers of
Education, Canada (CMEC). "This report provides us with important comparative
data that we can use to gauge improvements in our education systems over time.
In all three rounds of testing conducted by OECD since 2000, a consistently
strong showing by Canada speaks to the major efforts our schools and teachers
devote to ensuring our students are well prepared to succeed in a global
    "My congratulations to students and the learning community on Canada's
impressive performance," said the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human
Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). "Science and technology are
key drivers to building a resilient economy for years to come. Encouraging our
youth to build strong learning skills will help foster a culture of new ideas
and innovation which are integral to building the best-educated, most skilled,
and most flexible workforce in the world."
    Canadian participation in the PISA study, through the provinces, was made
possible thanks to the close collaboration of CMEC, HRSDC, and Statistics
Canada. Over 22,000 students from 1,000 different schools across Canada
participated in the study.
    "PISA 2006 shows that girls and boys do equally well in science, but they
excel in different science competencies," noted Sange de Silva, Director
General, Institutions and Social Statistics, Statistics Canada. "It appears
that boys may be better at mastering scientific knowledge, whereas girls may
be better at seeing the larger picture that enables them to identify
scientific questions that arise from a given situation."

    Some of the key findings about the performance of our students that the
Canadian report highlights are the following:

    -   As in PISA assessments in 2000 and 2003, Canadian students have a
        top-tier ranking in science, mathematics, and reading.
    -   In science, there is little variation in performance according to
        gender, but, in other subject areas, there is a persistent gender
        gap. Girls continue to significantly outperform boys in reading. In
        mathematics, boys tend to do better than girls, but the gender gap is
        less significant than in reading.
    -   In Canada, less than 10 per cent of the variation in students'
        performance can be explained by socioeconomic background, which is
        indicative of a high level of equity in a diverse student population.
    -   Students in minority-language school systems do not perform as well
        in science and reading as their counterparts in majority-language
        school systems. A similar trend can be observed in mathematics but
        the gap is less pronounced.
    -   In science and reading, first-generation students (those born in
        another country) are outperformed by both native-born and second-
        generation students (those born in Canada of immigrant parents). In
        mathematics, there is little variation in performance according to
        immigrant status.

    The Canadian report also provides information on personal and school
factors that influence a student's performance in science. For instance, the
report examines the relationship between student engagement in science and its
impact on course selection, educational pathways, and career choice.

    Copies of the Canadian report, Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD
PISA Study - The Performance of Canada's Youth in Science, Reading and
Mathematics can be found at or on the Web sites listed below.

    CMEC, the provinces, HRSDC, and Statistics Canada will continue their
partnership in order to ensure Canadian participation in the PISA 2009

For further information:

For further information: Hanca Chang, Media Relations, Council of
Ministers of Education, Canada, (416) 962-8100, ext. 265,,; Media Relations, Human Resources and Social Development Canada,
(819) 994-5559,; Client Services, Centre for Education
Statistics, Statistics Canada, 1-800-307-3382,,

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