Achievement in the Global and Local Context

December 11, 2013 - 3 minutes read

You may have seen some of the media attention last week around the result of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 results. The assessments are given in 65 participating countries to over half-a-million fourteen and fifteen-year-old students. The results allow countries to see what is working in high performing and rapidly improving jurisdictions.

In Canada, since education is a provincial mandate, results are separated by province, and the results were exceptionally reassuring for British Columbia. BC was one of the top performing jurisdictions in the world in each of the three areas – reading, math and science. Some of the notable achievements for BC included:

  • The highest performing English-speaking jurisdiction in the world
  • The highest performing multi-cultural jurisdiction in the world
  • The highest performing province in Canada in science and reading, and second to Quebec in math
  • A high level of equity of achievement – a smaller gap between high and low achieving students than across Canada and across the world

For more information on the latest results you can read my latest blog post, Some PISA Thinking.

I have also been working on the Superintendent’s Report on Achievement this past month, an annual report I submit to the West Vancouver Board of Education and the BC Ministry of Education (it will be available publicly in January) on the achievement levels in our district. Again, there are some exceptional results to highlight. West Vancouver students continue to perform at or near the 100th percentile on all provincial assessments. Of note, we are seeing improvements at the highest levels – the students who are moving from meeting to exceeding expectations in writing – and we are at all-time highs at Grades 4 and 7. Our graduation rate also continues to be about 97%.

There is no doubt that the combination of outstanding staff, supportive parents and engaged students is key to district success. And as I wrote last month, the innovative spirit is alive and well to help students prepare for an ever-changing world.

With all of this hard data, one has to be careful about narrowly focussing on academic performance. I am pleased to see that students are taking advantage of more opportunities in the fine and performing arts, and that awareness of Aboriginal issues across grade levels is on the rise. School is also about connecting to each other within and outside the classroom. In the last few weeks, both elementary and secondary students have been engaged in projects to support food banks, people in the Philippines and less advantaged students in BC and Africa. These are more signs that our students are prepared for the global world they will enter upon graduation.

My best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.