TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Canadian parents and teachers are
succeeding at creating an environment at home and at school that
promotes good reading skills among children, according to the two
reports released today by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
(CMEC) and the International Association for the Evaluation of
Educational Achievement (IEA). But while the reports show that Canadian
Grade 4 students perform well in reading by international standards,
there remains room for improvement, especially as not all students in
Canada are coming to school as ready to learn as they could be.
Results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
(PIRLS) show that Canadian parents have one of the highest levels of
involvement in literacy-related activities with their preschool-aged
children, such as reading books or playing word games. These activities
are associated with higher readings scores once the children enter
school. What's more, Canadian students are more likely than those in
almost every other country in the study to say they like to read, a
factor that also has a positive effect on their reading scores.
In 2011, PIRLS tested over 325,000 students from 45 countries and
economies, including over 23,000 students from Canada. Overall, Grade 4
students from Canada did well in reading, with a score of 548, which is
well above the PIRLS-scale midpoint of 500. Students from Hong Kong
SAR, the Russian Federation, Finland, and Singapore showed the
strongest performance on this study, with Northern Ireland, the United
States, and Denmark also achieving higher results than Canada.
Canadian students were more likely than the international average to
perform at the highest levels in reading. Thirteen percent of students
in Canada reached the highest level (the Advanced International
Benchmark), compared with 8 percent internationally. Fifty-one per cent
of Canadian students reached either the Advanced or the High
International Benchmark, compared with 44 per cent internationally; and
86 per cent reached at least the Intermediate International Benchmark,
compared with 80 per cent internationally.
"These results are very encouraging for our youth, our schools and our
communities", said the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Chair of CMEC and Nova
Scotia's Minister of Education. "They confirm the essential role of
families in developing early literacy skills of young children, in
preparing them well for school, and in supporting teachers in
developing strong reading skills both at home and at school. They also
show why so many other countries continue to look to our teachers and
our schools as models to follow."
As was the case in almost all countries participating in PIRLS in 2011,
girls performed better than boys in reading, but this so-called "gender
gap" was smaller in Canada than in most countries.
As well as their above-average results, provincial education systems
again stand out on measures of equity. In Canada, as in other
countries, schools with a greater proportion of children from affluent
background produce higher reading scores. However, the difference in
reading scores between schools with a greater proportion of affluent
students and those with fewer affluent students is smaller in Canada
than in most other countries.
One of the factors contributing to this degree of equity in Canada is
the fact that the vast majority of schools place a high or very high
emphasis on students' academic success. Previous studies have shown
that students from all backgrounds have better chances of succeeding
academically if schools aim to reach high standards of excellence and
if teachers believe in the students' abilities to succeed. This is
confirmed by PIRLS, which shows not only that students in Canada are
more likely than students in other countries to attend schools that
place a high emphasis on academic success, but that students in these
success-oriented schools perform better in the reading assessment.
At the same time, the reports demonstrate that there is room for
improvement. A significant number of teachers report that their
teaching is affected by the fact that children in Canada are not coming
to school as ready to learn as they should be. Four in five teachers in
Canada say that their teaching is affected, at least to some extent, by
students' lack of prerequisite knowledge and skills. Perhaps more
surprisingly, two-thirds say that their teaching is affected by
students' lack of sleep, and one-third say that their teaching is
affected by students' lack of basic nutrition.
No less worrying is the study's findings with respect to bullying.
Between 7 and 17 per cent of Canadian Grade 4 students report
experiencing a specific bullying behaviour ― ranging from name-calling
to hitting ― at least once a week. More generally, less than half of
Canadian students say they almost never experience any type of
bullying, with one in five saying they experience these behaviours
often. And according to PIRLS, the more students are bullied, the more
their performance in reading decreases.
"Although we should be pleased with these results, PIRLS shows us that
there remains room for improvement in early literacy," said Dr. Andrew
Parkin, Director General of CMEC. "Our education systems continue to
stand out in terms of overall levels of achievement and in terms of
equity, both of which are high by international standards. But issues
such as bullying remain a challenge, both in Canada and around the
world, and will continue to be a priority for ministers of education
until every student feels welcome and is able to succeed at school."
The language environment of students continues to play role in their
performance. Students in French minority-language school systems did
less well than students in English majority-language school systems.
Other recent Canadian and international reading assessments of older
students have obtained similar results. However, there was no
significant difference between the performance of students in the
English minority-language school system and students in the French
majority-language system in Quebec.
In addition to country-wide results, PIRLS provides jurisdiction-level
data for seven of the Canadian provinces that participated in the
PIRLS 2011 marks the first time that Canada has participated in the
study, which is repeated every five years. Canada's participation was
coordinated by CMEC and financed by participating provinces. The next
assessment will take place in 2016.
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 exercise of the exclusive
jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more
information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.
SOURCE: Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
For further information:
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259