CMEC released the results of the fifth cycle of the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, the PCAP 2019 Report on the Pan-Canadian Assessment of Mathematics, Reading, and Science, on October 12, 2021.
In the spring of 2019, approximately 30,000 students in Grade 8 (Secondary II in Quebec), in close to 1,600 schools from across the country, were tested. Mathematics was the primary domain assessed, while reading and science were the minor domains. All 10 Canadian provinces, but no territories, participated in the assessment.

For the first time, PCAP was administered on a computer-based online platform. Students today interact extensively with technology — both in the classroom and in their daily lives. This interaction is now a permanent and pervasive part of our society: it is what “feels natural” to students. Accordingly, the move to a computer-based assessment is aligned with current educational and social practices, and supports increased student engagement.

A computer-based assessment has also improved the accessibility of the assessment for students with special-education needs. Computer-based assessments can incorporate computerized accessibility tools into the assessment platform; students commonly benefit from these tools in their daily lives.

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 2019 focused on mathematics, defined through four subdomains: numbers and operations, geometry and measurement, patterns and relationships, and data management and probability.

The performance levels in mathematics were developed with provinces to ensure that the unique qualities of our country’s education systems were taken into account. In PCAP 2019, the results for the mathematics component are described in terms of four 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.

PCAP 2019 also collected extensive contextual information from questionnaires completed by students, teachers, and principals. This information is available, as part of the PCAP 2019 Contextual Report on Student Achievement in Mathematics, and should offer insight into some of the factors that may influence student performance. The PCAP 2019 Technical Report is also available on our website.