FEBRUARY 10, 2014: The 2012 PISA results were released in December . The “Programme for International Student Assessment” is run by the Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD). Testing is done every three years since 2000. More than half a million 15-year old students from 65 countries take part in studies assessing their abilities in math, reading and science. While those of us who work in education are always cautious about the weight given to this kind of testing, it is so far, an important indicator of how Canada measures up academically when compared to other countries. And this year, we learned a bit more about Canada’s learners, outside the usual academic portrait.
Bottom line, Canada does very well in this testing. With a mean score of 518, we find ourselves in 10th place. Higher scores ranged from 519 to 613 and were from China, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Finland, Netherlands, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Our neighbors to the south, the United States ranked in 33rd place with a score of 481.
While we have dropped a few spots (partly as other countries improved their scores), it is certainly fair to say that education systems in Canada remain the envy of countries throughout the world. That is not an accident of history. It is a success built upon the work of locally elected and accountable public school boards for more than a century.
And what school boards realize is that even with success it is always necessary to re-evaluate and improve what we do. This is why trustees are constantly working together throughout this country to share ideas and best practices that will help our students succeed.
The importance of school boards and the history of their success is not always recognized when provincial governments discuss educational policies. But it is school boards and their associations that stand up for students in the face of provincial cut backs to education.
The governance of public education in Canada by locally elected school boards and the advocacy by those boards and their provincial associations has resulted in an education system where:
- More students go on to university and college (51%) than the average of OECD countries (32%).
- Policies and practices have had a positive impact on the extent to which socio-economic status influences student success, Canada being one of only 8 countries which were able to combine high performance with high levels of equity in education.
The bottom line is that the work of Canadian school trustees have produced a system that works. It is the efforts of trustees across this country; listening to their communities and creating the policies and environments that encourage our students to succeed.
The Canadian School Boards Association is proud to support this work.
Ref: PISA 2012 Results in Focus (pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf)
How Canadians Measure Up Internationally (81-590-x2010001-eng.pdf)