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Assessment is a key component of provincial and territorial education systems. It helps track student achievement and progress, and can identify gaps and challenges in the systems.

CMEC is involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of both pan-Canadian and international assessment programs, as well as other large-scale studies to examine the educational environments and whether or not they are meeting expectations for students' performance at strategic points in their education.

  • The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) is a series of cyclical tests of the achievement of Grade 8/Secondary Two (in Quebec) students in mathematics, reading, and science administered in Canadian provinces and territories. PCAP, which replaces an earlier assessment called the Student Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP), is coordinated by CMEC and has been administered every three years since 2007.

  • The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment of the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science. PISA has been administered every three years since 2000. All 10 provinces take part in PISA, with Canada's participation a partnership among Employment and Social Development Canada, CMEC, and Statistics Canada.

  • The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is an international survey led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures the foundation skills of adults between 16 and 65 years of age, and collects information that includes their antecedents and how their skills are used at work and in other contexts in the 21st century. All provinces and territories participate, and Canada's involvement is a partnership among Employment and Social Development Canada, CMEC, and other federal agencies and departments. Statistics Canada managed the implementation of the survey in all provinces and territories in 2012.

  • The International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) is an international assessment sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The focus of ICILS is to assess the extent to which Grade 8 students know about, understand, and are able to use information and communication technology (ICT). ICILS was administered for the first time in spring 2013. Two provinces participated in this study, and CMEC is coordinating their involvement.

  • The Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M) is an international comparative study on teacher education that focuses on the preparation of teachers who will be teaching mathematics in primary and lower secondary grades. Four provinces participated in this study, and CMEC coordinated their involvement.

  • The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international assessment administered every five years that measures trends in students' reading-literacy achievement and in policy and practices related to literacy. The target population for PIRLS is students in Grade 4, and the mean age at the time of testing is at least 9.5 years. This study is carried out under the auspices of IEA. Although a few individual provinces participated in PIRLS 2001 and 2006, PIRLS 2011 marks the first pan-Canadian participation in the assessment, with nine provinces participating and CMEC coordinating their involvement. The IEA has created a new extension to the PIRLS 2016 assessment: ePIRLS, an innovative assessment of on-line reading.

Results from these different assessment programs are now discussed in Assessment Matters! — a series of policy-oriented research notes designed to explore educational issues in Canada and Canadian jurisdictions.