TORONTO, Dec. 7 /CNW/ - A major international report released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows Canadian students rank among the best in the world in reading, mathematics, and science.
The OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is one of the most comprehensive international student evaluations ever developed. The number of participating jurisdictions has risen steadily over the years to 65 countries and economies. PISA 2009 tested close to half a million 15-year-old students, including 23,000 Canadians, on their skills and knowledge in three core subject areas. The major focus was reading, with a secondary focus on mathematics and science. Canada is releasing its own companion report, Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study, at the same time as the OECD report to provide further information on student performance at the provincial level.
According to the PISA report, the average performance of Canadian students in reading was well above the OECD average. Only four countries and economies out of 65 — Shanghai-China, Korea, Finland, and Hong-Kong-China — outperformed Canada in overall reading results.
"Canadian students continue to perform well when compared internationally, as they have done in every PISA assessment since the project began in 2000," said the Honourable Diane McGifford, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and Manitoba's Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy, and Minister responsible for International Education. Minister McGifford also noted that Canada is one of the few countries that combines high PISA scores with high equity, meaning that there is a relatively small gap between the highest and lowest performing students. "High performance and high equity are the distinguishing features of education systems in Canada," she said. "This reflects our commitment to ensuring that students have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and are well-equipped for the demands of an increasing knowledge-based economy."
PISA 2009 also finds that Canadian students performed well in mathematics and science. Only seven countries performed better than Canada in mathematics and only six in science.
"Congratulations to students and learning communities for these strong results. Canada's performance demonstrates that Canadian students have a solid foundation to be successful in today's knowledge-based economy," said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). "By helping Canadian youth to develop their skills, we are helping to create the best educated, most skilled, and most flexible workforce in the world."
PISA 2009 marks the beginning of a second nine-year cycle which means that more comparisons in performance in the three subject areas can made over time. Over the four administrations of the assessment, Canada's mean results in reading, mathematics, and science have remained relatively stable. "Results from PISA 2009 corroborate the findings from previous PISA cycles. Canadian students continue to demonstrate strong performance in reading, mathematics, and science," according to Sylvie Michaud, Director General of the Education, Labour and Income Statistics Branch at Statistics Canada.
However, some countries and economies have improved their overall scores over time and thus improved their ranking over Canada's. Other high-performing countries are participating in the study for the first time.
Other key findings from PISA 2009 include:
- Canada has a larger proportion of high achievers and a smaller proportion of low achievers compared to the OECD average.
- In reading, girls continue to outperform boys. The Canadian results mirror OECD findings.
- In mathematics, boys outperform girls, but the difference is smaller than the gender difference favouring girls in reading. Once again, the Canadian results mirror OECD findings.
- In science, Canadian boys outperform girls only slightly; however, on average across OECD countries, boys and girls have similar performance.
- In most provinces, students attending majority-language school systems outperform students who attend minority-language systems.
"Today's PISA results highlight that while Canadian students continue to do well internationally, the world is not standing still. Our education systems must strive for continuous improvement if we are to ensure Canada remains a world leader in providing high-quality, equitable public education," said Minister McGifford. "A second pan-Canadian report, with more detailed analyses of factors associated with student performance, will be published in spring 2011. We look forward to that report as it will give us a more detailed understanding of today's results as well as provide a more detailed analysis of why we are doing well and how we can do even better."
Canadian participation in PISA 2009 was made possible through close collaboration among Canada's three partners, CMEC, HRSDC, and Statistics Canada. The Canadian report, Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study can be found at www.cmec.ca/pisa2009/en/, www.pisa.gc.ca, or www.statcan.gc.ca/dai-quo/index-eng.htm. The OECD report can be accessed at www.pisa.oecd.org.
Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada's ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the fulfillment of the constitutional jurisdiction for education conferred on the provinces and territories. For more information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.
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