Remarkable Results For Canadian Students In Reading


Toronto, April 28, 2008  -- The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), released their first report today from the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) on the evaluation of 13-year-old students across Canada in Reading, Mathematics, and Science. Results gathered in this report indicate that most students across Canada are reading at and above the expected level of performance for their age group.

Canadians have long been interested in how well their education systems are meeting the needs of students and society. PCAP was created in 2003 by CMEC following the decision of the ministers of education to replace the School Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP) with a new evaluation more consistent with international ones such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PCAP is also designed to complement existing assessments in each Canadian jurisdiction, providing nation-wide data on the achievement levels attained by students across the country.

“The results released today will provide ministers of education with a basis for examining their curricula, as well as their policies and practices for the learning environment of their students,” said the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Education for New Brunswick and current Chair of CMEC.

In spring 2007, the test was administered to approximately 30,000 students in all provinces and in Yukon. Approximately 15,000 students wrote in English and 5,000 in French for the reading segment, the primary domain  evaluated, while 7,500 wrote the mathematics and science section in English and 2,500 students wrote them in French.  The students' performance in reading is reported on a three-point scale, with level 1 being the lowest level of performance and level 3 the highest.

Some of the major findings:

  1. Overall, 88 per cent of all students across Canada performed in reading at level 2 and above, with level 2 being the expected level of performance for the age group. Across all participating jurisdictions the percentages of students performing at level 2 and above range between 81 and 90 per cent.
  2. The mean score in reading of students in Quebec is significantly higher than that of Canadian students overall There is no significant difference between the mean score of students in Ontario from that of Canadian students overall.
  3. Female students in Canada achieved a mean score in reading that was higher than that of male students. Furthermore, the proportion of female students performing at level 3 is higher than that of male students at this level.

“We are very pleased with the results as put forward by the first PCAP report. These data are consistent with the results of other larger-scale assessments, both in Canada and internationally,” added Minister Lamrock. “However, as a minister, I am concerned about the gap in reading performance between boys and girls. It tells us that policy makers have to continue to look seriously at new ways of teaching reading strategies for boys.”

CMEC also collected supporting information through the context questionnaires completed by students, teachers, and school principals. The information gathered about the context in which reading education takes place in Canada's education systems will be reported in a future release that may provide insight into the differences in performance by students across Canada.

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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Tamara Davis
Communications coordinator
TEL.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 241