The latest results of the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) have been released. The PISA survey is conducted every three years by the the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an inter-governmental organization with 35 member countries. More than 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies took the two-hour test. Of the OECD countries included in the survey, Canada came within the top four.
Volumes one and two of the results, which focus on science performance, were released on December 6, 2016. Further volumes focusing on student well-being, social skills, and financial literacy are expected to be released in 2017. In all the areas presented in the recently-released volumes, students in Canada significantly out-performed their peers in English-speaking countries worldwide.
Highlights from the report
- Approximately 20,000 Canadian students took part in the survey.
- The highest-performing provinces for Science were British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec.
- Canada came second only to Singapore in the reading category.
- Among OECD member countries, Canada tied in third place with Finland, with Japan and Estonia in the top two positions. Among all countries worldwide, Canada placed seventh. Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Macao (China) also ranked highly.
Immigrant Children Performing Strongly
A world map showing the above-average performance of immigrant children in Canada
Of particular interest in this report is a focus on immigrant educational outcomes. The report stated that “almost one quarter of disadvantaged immigrant students match the performance of the top quarter of students internationally,” acknowledging the resilience and adaptability of immigrant children around the world in entering a new school system. Canada is noted as one of the top countries for the performance of immigrant children, with PISA finding that the performance of immigrant children in Canada has improved since 2006.
Canada has one of the world’s most progressive and open immigration policies, and immigrant children in Canadian schools consistently perform better than their peers.
A separate OECD report published in December 2015 found that Canada was the fourth-best country worldwide for the performance of its immigrant children in computer-based problem-solving and mathematics, and third worldwide for reading performance. In the analysis of the sense of belonging students feel at school, immigrant children reported a similarly strong sense of belonging at school as native-born Canadian children and second-generation immigrant children. This suggests that Canadian schools are succeeding at helping immigrant children feel at home in a new school and environment.
Previous reports from Statistics Canada have concurred, finding that “the children of immigrants generally outperform the children of Canadian-born parents in educational attainment by a large margin. Previous studies have attributed this success to the socioeconomic and cultural characteristics of Canada’s immigrants and the efficacy of Canada’s education and social policies.”
It has also been found in previous studies that the mean high-school graduation rate among childhood immigrants (defined as children aged 12 and under upon arrival in Canada) is 93.1 percent, compared to a country-wide rate of 87.3 percent. The mean university graduation rate among childhood immigrants is 39.9 percent, compared to 25.9 percent country-wide. These figures are based on the most recent data available, from 2011.
Canada was one of only eight countries surveyed in which at least nine out of ten 15-year-old students master baseline proficiency in science, mathematics, and reading skills. The eight countries in which students met this standard were Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan, Estonia, Finland and Canada were the lead performers in science among OECD member countries.
Canada was also named as a country to learn from in regards to science education. With well-structured lessons, balanced interaction between teachers and students, and a focus on debate and experiential learning, Canada’s science programs are held up as an example to the world. Speaking of students from Canada, as well as similar well-perform countries Singapore, Slovenia, Australia and the UK, the OECD report states, “their learning time is productive, giving them the opportunity to build their academic, social, and emotional skills in a balanced way.”
A world map showing Canada’s above-average performance in Science, Reading, and Math
Equity and Gender
A world map showing Canada’s above-average performance in gender equity in education
The OECD defines equity as the principle that “student achievements should reflect their abilities and efforts, not their personal circumstances.” Once again, Canada achieved one of the highest levels of performance and equity in educational outcomes, and was the only country outside of Asia and Europe to do so.
Canada was particularly noted as a country that achieves high levels of equity and performance, along with Denmark, Finland, Macao, and Hong Kong. The gender gap between boys and girls in Canada is significantly lower than the OECD average.
The Canadian Advantage
Minor children of certain temporary residents in Canada have the right to attend public school and benefit from the same schooling services as the children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This includes the accompanying minor children of international students in Canada, who may attend pre-school, primary or secondary school without a study permit. Once they reach the age of majority — either 18 or 19 years of age, depending on the province — children of international students in Canada may be required to apply for a study permit if they wish to pursue higher education.
To learn more about your options for studying in Canada, click here. There is also a range of tools and resources available for prospective students in Canada, including Canada School Search and School Match Canada.
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