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Performance of Canadian youth in reading, mathematics and science

January 17, 201117 January 2011

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This report provides a detailed examination of the performance of Canadian 15-year olds in science, reading and mathematics in 2009. The test results are based on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Comparisons are made between 65 countries participating in the assessment. As noted in Statistics Canada’s Daily article highlighting the report’s findings, “Canadian 15-year-old students continue to perform well internationally and have strong skill sets in reading, mathematics and sciences.”

Reading literacy is defined as “understanding, using, reflecting on and engaging with written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society”. Canadian students, on average, performed well above the OECD average score on the reading tests. Of 65 countries participating, only students from Shanghai, Korea, Finland and Hong Kong achieved higher reading scores than Canadian students. Among the provinces, only students on Prince Edward Island performed below the OECD average.

Among Canadian 15 year old students, females continue to outperform males on the reading tests. The gap between females and males in Canada is similar to the international gap in achievement between the sexes.

Compared with the 2000 assessment of reading skills, there was little overall change in Canadian students’ performance in reading. However, there were significant declines in five provinces: Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

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