Results of a Major Writing Survey Show Most Students in Canada Meeting Expectations


Toronto, May 27, 2003 -- A major national writing test shows that most students tested are writing at or above the levels expected.

The test results were released today in Toronto by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) as part of the School Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP). The ministers of education, who are responsible for the design of the program, receive a financial contribution from Human Resources Development Canada.

"Along with the other assessments that we are doing, nationally and internationally, this test helps us as ministers to be accountable to our citizens and we take accountability very seriously," said the Honourable Dianne Cunningham, Chair of CMEC and Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The assessment was administered in 2002 to approximately 24,000 students in all provinces and territories, except Nunavut. Performance is reported on a five-point scale, with one being the lowest and five the highest.

Some major findings:

  1. More than 80% of 13-year-olds reached level 2 and above. According to the test designers, level 2 is the level that most 13-year-olds should reach. Over 40% reached level 3 and above.
  2. Over 60% of 16-year-olds reached level 3 or above. Level 3 is the level most 16-year-olds should reach, according to test designers.
  3. Significantly more girls in both age groups performed at higher levels than boys. This gender gap is consistent with current trends in Language Arts assessment as confirmed in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2000 reading assessment.
  4. Among francophones, students in Quebec outperformed francophone students in minority-language settings for both age groups.


CMEC also released a companion document today entitled Student Writing: The Canadian Context. This document provides information about the context in which writing education takes place in Canada's education systems. The context information was collected through questionnaires completed by students, teachers, and school principals.

Some examples of information provided in the context document:

  • In most provinces and territories, 16-year-olds are taught writing by teachers who have specialized degrees in language.
  • Most students feel that writing is important for their future studies.
  • For most provinces and territories, three out of four students expect to attend university or college after their secondary education.
  • On average, fewer that 50% of students read one hour or more per week for enjoyment. Television watching is at an average of fifteen hours per week.
  • Approximately 80% of Canadian students have access to the Internet. About half the students use a computer at home one hour or more per week for school work and three hours or more per week for entertainment.


"This data will help provinces and territories when they consider policy alternatives in education, and will provide researchers with valuable contextual information about Canada's provincial and territorial systems," said Minister Cunningham.

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.

- 30 -

Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 241
Web site: