Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Education Announce the Results for Canadian Students in the SAIP Science Assessment 2004


Toronto, June 15, 2005 -- Pan-Canadian data from the 2004 School Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP) Science Assessment reveal that 13- and 16-year-olds' results have slightly declined in science compared to their results in the 1999 SAIP Science Assessment.

“We know that our students are working hard; however, the SAIP results demonstrate that there is room for improvement in their performance in science nationwide. The data also show that they perform very well in an international context,” Alberta Education Minister Gene Zwozdesky said at a press conference held today in Toronto. Zwozdesky was speaking on behalf of Jean-Marc Fournier, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) and Minister of Education, Recreation and Sport for Quebec.

The SAIP assessment is designed to determine student achievement in relation to Canada-wide standards. Performance is reported on the basis of five levels with five being the highest level of achievement. Most 13-year-old students are expected to achieve at least level 2, while most 16-year-olds should achieve level 3 or better.

The SAIP Science Assessment was administered in April and May 2004 in all provinces and territories except Nunavut. The data for 2004 were compared to those from the earlier 1996 and 1999 assessments. Across Canada, about 25,700 students from approximately 1,800 schools wrote the 2004 test.

Highlights of the 2004 results include the following:

  1. Over 70 per cent of 13-year-olds perform at level 2 or higher.
  2. Almost two-thirds of 16-year-olds perform at level 3 or better.
  3. Although Canadian students' performance in science improved between 1996 and 1999, the proportion of 13- and 16-year-olds performing at higher SAIP levels fell in 2004.
  4. There is very little difference in the performance of boys and girls in both age groups.
  5. Francophone students in minority language settings generally perform at lower levels than anglophone students or francophones in Quebec. In some jurisdictions, over 30 per cent of 13-year-olds did not reach level 1.


In 2004, a national panel representative of different sectors of Canadian society established a set of expectations to help interpret actual student results. Students in both age groups generally performed as expected by the panel, except for minor differences at the highest levels.

The SAIP Science III (2004) Public Report, released today, includes a brief analysis of various factors that may have an impact on performance on science assessments, including the following:

  • Some 40 per cent of 16-year-olds in all provinces and territories expect to work some day in a field requiring training in science or technology.
  • In several jurisdictions, there is a positive correlation between the teachers' number of years of experience and the performance of students in science. However, the average age of science teachers across Canada is dropping significantly.
  • School principals across Canada report that almost half of all schools offer no science enrichment program for advanced students.


“The SAIP report has been shared with all provincial and territorial counterparts,” Zwozdesky stated. “This evaluation will help us to gain a better understanding of how our respective education systems work and encourage us to cooperate on improving the quality of education.”

SAIP, an initiative of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, has been assessing the performance of Canadian students in reading, writing, mathematics, and science for over 10 years.

CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.

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For more information please contact
Colin Bailey
Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 259
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