The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) is an assessment of the skills and knowledge of Canadian students in Grade 8 (Secondary II in Quebec); in addition, it provides information about a range of factors that contribute to the success of students, teachers, schools, and education systems.

PCAP covers three domains — reading, mathematics, and science. Although each assessment includes questions from all three domains, the focus shifts. In 2007, the emphasis was on reading, with mathematics and science as minor domains. In 2010, mathematics was the primary domain, and in 2013, it was science. In the assessment of 2016, the focus will again be reading. The repetition of the assessments at regular intervals yields timely data that can be compared across jurisdictions and over time.

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.

In the spring of 2016, approximately 1,500 schools and over 30,000 students from across the country will participate in PCAP. Reading will be the primary domain assessed, while mathematics and science will be the minor domains. All 10 Canadian provinces, but no territories, will participate in the assessment.

The report on the assessment results will be released in 2017 and will provide results on Grade 8/Secondary II student achievement in reading, mathematics, and science at both country and provincial levels. Extensive contextual information will be collected from questionnaires completed by students, teachers, and principals. This information will be published in 2018 as part of the contextual report and should offer insight into some of the factors that may influence student performance in reading.