PISA 2015 Results Shows High Levels of Achievement by Canadian Students

TORONTO, December 6, 2016 – According to a major international study released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canadian students are among the highest achievers in the world in science, mathematics, and reading.


The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial survey of the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds near the end of their compulsory schooling. PISA 2015 focused on science as its major domain, with mathematics and reading as secondary domains. It was administered to students in 72 countries and economies. In Canada, over 20,000 students from approximately 900 schools in all 10 provinces took part in the assessment.


Through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), the provinces are releasing their own companion report, Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study, at the same time as the OECD report to provide further information on the performance of Canadian students in each province.


The Canadian results from PISA 2015 are a success story for provincial education systems:


  • Canadian 15-year-olds placed well above the OECD average and remain among the top performers in science. Of the 72 countries and economies participating in the assessment, only three —Singapore, Japan, and Estonia—outperformed Canada.


  • Close to 90 per cent of Canadian students performed at or above Level 2 in science, which is the baseline level of proficiency required to take advantage of further learning opportunities and participate fully in modern society. The OECD average was only 79 per cent.


  • In mathematics and reading, Canada was also one of the top performers: only one country—Singapore—surpassed Canada in reading, and only six countries and economies performed better in mathematics.


  • “The results from PISA 2015 are extremely gratifying. In every domain, Canada is not only near the very top internationally, we have increased our ranking since PISA 2012,” said the Honourable Doug W. Currie, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, and Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture for Prince Edward Island.


Minister Currie also noted, “When you view these results in tandem with the high level of equity in student performance—again an area where Canada outperforms the OECD average—it is clear that our education systems are doing a superb job. We are preparing our young people well for the competitive economy of the 21st century.”


While the PISA 2015 results are excellent, education ministers will continue to focus on improving results, Over time, the proportion of top-performing students in science (Level 5 or above) has declined slightly. Ministries/departments will continue to examine ways to raise performance at this level and bring even more students into the top-performing cohort.


In addition, 11 per cent of Canadian students do not meet the baseline level of performance in science. While this figure is significantly lower than the OECD average of 21 per cent, education ministers plan to continue work to lower it further.


Other key findings from PISA 2015 include the following:


  • Twelve per cent of Canadian students are top performers (performance Levels 5 or above) in science, a proportion that is four per cent higher than the OECD average.


  • Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia students performed particularly well in science and were on a par with the highest-performing countries and economies in the assessment. Quebec students performed extremely well in mathematics and are among the best in the world. Students in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia were on a par with many of the best performers in reading.


  • On average across Canada, there was no gender gap in science performance. In mathematics, boys continue to outperform girls in Canada overall. In reading, girls are still well ahead of boys in Canada and internationally.


  • There was no overall achievement difference in Canada between anglophone and francophone school systems in science and reading. In mathematics, the results showed some differences by the language of the school system: at the pan-Canadian level, students in francophone school systems performed better than their counterparts in anglophone schools systems.


Canadian participation in PISA 2015 was made possible through cooperation between the provinces, working through CMEC, and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).


The Canadian report can be found at www.pisacan.ca. The OECD report can be accessed at www.oecd.org/pisa/.


Ministers responsible for education wish to thank the students, teachers, principals, and other school personnel who gave of their time to participate in PISA 2015.


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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Colin Bailey
Director, Communications
Cell: 437-777-4879
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259
E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca
Twitter: @CCMEC