PISA 2006 involved about 400,000 students from 57 countries in the international assessment of the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds.  In Canada, students participated in all ten provinces, with 22,000 students in 1,000 schools taking the tests. Science was the major domain, with mathematics and reading the minor domains in PISA 2006. PISA is conducted in French and English.

Science and environment was a key theme explored in PISA, assessing three broad competency areas:

  • Identifying scientific issues
  • Explaining phenomena scientifically
  • Using scientific evidence

Information on the learning context and students' perceptions and attitudes regarding environmental issues was also collected.

The report, Measuring up: Canadian results of the OECD PISA Study: The performance of Canada's youth in science, reading, and mathematics: 2006 First Results for Canadians Aged 15, compares the achievement of Canadian students to that of students internationally, provides results at the provincial level, and offers information on the influences on student achievement.

  • Canada's results were consistent with those of the top-ranked countries.
  • In the major domain of science, among the 57 participating countries, only Finland and Hong Kong-China had significantly higher scores than Canada. Chinese-Taipei, Estonia, Japan, and New Zealand performed as well as Canada.
  • Only Korea, Finland, and Hong Kong-China performed better than Canada in reading and mathematics.  Chinese-Taipei also performed better than Canada in mathematics.

Highlights of the pan-Canadian results include

  • All provinces performed at or above the OECD average in all three domains, although there were notable provincial differences.
  • In science, there is little variation in performance according to gender.  Girls continue to significantly outperform boys in reading.  In mathematics, boys tend to do better than girls, but the differences are not as significant as in reading.
  • Less than 10 per cent of the variation in student performance can be explained by socioeconomic background, which is indicative of a high level of equity in a diverse student population.
  • Students in French minority language school systems do not perform as well in science and reading as their counterparts in the English majority language systems.
  • In science and reading, non-native-born students (those born in another country) perform less well than native-born and second-generation students.