CMEC released the results of the fourth cycle of the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, the PCAP 2016 Report on the Pan-Canadian Assessment of Reading, Mathematics, and Science, on April 30, 2018.

In the spring of 2016, approximately 27,000 students in Grade 8 (Secondary II in Quebec) from close to 1,500 schools across the country were tested. Reading was the primary domain assessed, while mathematics and science were the minor domains. All 10 Canadian provinces, but no territories, participated in the assessment.

The PCAP assessment is not tied to the curriculum of a particular province or territory but is instead a fair measurement of students’ abilities to use their learning skills to solve real-life situations. It measures how well students are doing; it does not attempt to assess approaches to learning.

PCAP 2016 focused on reading literacy, defined through four subdomains: (1) understanding texts (“reading the lines”); (2) interpreting texts (“reading between the lines”): and (3) responding personally to texts and (4) responding critically to texts (“reading beyond the lines”).

The performance levels in reading were developed in consultation with independent experts in education and assessment and align broadly with internationally accepted practice. Provinces also worked to ensure that the unique qualities of our country’s education systems were taken into account.

In PCAP 2016, the results for the reading component are described in terms of three performance levels. These levels represent how well students are doing based on the cognitive demand and degree of difficulty of the test items. Performance level 2 is the expected level of performance for Grade 8 students. Level 1 represents the performance of students at a level below that expected of students at their grade level. Level 3 represents students who achieve a performance level above that of their peers.

PCAP 2016 also collected extensive contextual information from questionnaires completed by students, teachers, and principals. This information will be published in the coming months, as part of the “PCAP 2016 Contextual Report on Student Achievement in Reading,” and should offer insight into some of the factors that may influence student performance. The “PCAP 2016 Technical Report” will be published in late 2018.