TORONTO, December 5, 2023A significant international study, whose report was released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranks Canadian students among the top performers globally in mathematics.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducts a survey every three years to assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds nearing the conclusion of their compulsory education. The primary assessed domain of PISA 2022 was mathematics, with reading and science as minor domains. The assessment encompassed 81 countries and economies, engaging 5,000 to 10,000 students from at least 150 schools in each one. In Canada, an impressive number of more than 23,000 students from over 850 schools across all 10 provinces participated.

Here are the highlights for Canada from PISA 2022:

  • Canadian 15-year-olds demonstrated strong performance in mathematics, consistently ranking among the top-performing countries and economies. Of the 81 countries and economies participating in the assessment, Canada is the only country in North America to be in the top 10, outperformed by only four non-OECD countries and economies (Singapore, Macao [China], Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong [China]) and four OECD countries (Japan, Korea, Estonia, and Switzerland).
  • Seventy-eight percent of Canadian students achieved proficiency at or above Level 2 in mathematics. In comparison, the OECD average stood at a lower 69 percent. Level 2 is considered to be the foundational proficiency level necessary to fully engage in further learning opportunities and actively participate in contemporary society.
  • Canadian students demonstrated strong performance in both reading and science. In reading, only two economies and three countries outperformed Canada, while in science, only three economies and three countries achieved superior results.
  • Canadian students performed well in PISA 2022; however, comparative results over time emphasize the imperative for sustained attention. While Canadian scores across the three domains of mathematics, reading, and science remain high compared to those of other participating countries and economies, there has been a gradual decline in scores over time. It is noteworthy to mention that the decline in scores is a trend seen in the majority of other participating countries and economies.

Additional notable findings from PISA 2022 include the following:

  • Quebec students particularly excelled in mathematics and achieved rankings comparable to some of the highest-performing countries and economies in the assessment. British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario also demonstrated performance that was in line with Canada’s overall strong results.
  • Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island students shared top standing in reading compared to other provinces.
  • Across Canada, there was notable variation in mathematics performance based on gender, with boys surpassing girls in average scores. A similar pattern was observed in numerous other participating countries and economies.
  • In reading, girls consistently outperformed boys in both the Canadian and international contexts. Conversely, in the field of science, the performance of boys and girls showed a similar level of achievement.
  • In mathematics, Canadian results exhibited variations based on the language of the school system. In most instances, students attending majority-language school systems outperformed their counterparts in minority-language school systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to the administration of large-scale student assessments like PISA. For PISA 2022, a number of countries were obliged to conduct non-response bias analyses (NRBAs) because of lower-than-expected response rates. The purpose of the NRBAs was to determine whether the data were of acceptable quality for inclusion in the PISA data set, as well as to determine whether the results from participating (i.e., respondent) schools and students differ in comparison to the non-respondent schools and students. Both respondent and non-respondent schools and students were those selected for participation in PISA 2022.

In Canada, the pandemic’s effects on participation rates necessitated conducting an NRBA in a number of provinces. Findings from the province-specific NRBA, which was praised for its technical rigour, have positioned the Canadian data to be fully integrated into the PISA data sets. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that the data from Canada, especially from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, require careful interpretation due to potential non-response bias among students.

Canada’s participation in PISA 2022 was made possible by funding provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and through the cooperation of the provinces under the aegis of CMEC.

For a comprehensive review of PISA 2022 results, access the Canadian report at https://cmec.ca/712/PISA_2022.html. The OECD’s report is available at www.oecd.org/pisa/.

The ministers responsible for education commend and thank all the students, educators, principals, and school staff who devoted their time to participate in PISA 2022. The information provided by PISA helps ministers make informed decisions about their respective education systems to better support students.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada’s ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.


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Val Baravi
Manager, Communications
Cell: 249-288-9240
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 298
Email: v.baravi@cmec.ca