BC students top readers, second in science and sixth in math worldwide

December 13, 2016 - 4 minutes read

west-vancouver-schools-chris-kennedyFirst term report cards recently arrived at home, providing families with some insight into student performance. The province also got a report card last week, comparing BC student achievement to the rest of the world – and the results are outstanding.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released the results of the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) last week, a test that measures performance in reading, science and math among 15-year olds in 72 countries. The results provide participating nations with a window into what is working in high performing and rapidly improving jurisdictions. BC students performed better in 2015 than they did in 2012 in every category, taking top spot for reading, second in science and sixth place in math. The results tell a powerful story about the quality of education in BC and across Canada.

In Canada, since education is provincially mandated, results are separated by province. Some of the notable achievements for BC and Canada included:

  • No countries performed higher than BC’s range in reading achievement. Ten jurisdictions performed at the same range, and 71 jurisdictions performed below;
  • 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;
  • Canada’s immigrant students are performing well ahead of the OECD average.

These results do matter as we constantly work to improve education, but as I’ve noted before, PISA measures a limited set of skills. Standardized testing provides a narrow view of system performance by reducing education to a mere numbers game. The PISA does not, for example, provide insight into the moral, civic, artistic, mental and physical development that we expect our education system to help deliver.

But as we refresh the curriculum in BC and elsewhere in Canada, we know that we’re starting from a position of strength, particularly here in West Vancouver, where student achievement and post-secondary transition rates are so high. These results can also help us drill down to focus on areas where we can make the greatest improvements.

We need to continue to work to improve our Aboriginal graduation rates, and support all learners in our classrooms. While excellent, there is always room to improve on equity measures – ensuring that the gap between male and female students continues to narrow. We need to continue advocating for investment and innovation in public education to ensure students have the critical thinking skills to become leaders in the world of business, the arts and scientific discovery.

There is no doubt that the combination of outstanding staff, supportive parents and engaged students in West Vancouver is a powerful recipe for success. We should all be very proud of the work we are doing to help students succeed at school, across the country and around the world.

The OECD report, including results by country, is available at: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/

The Canadian report is available at: www.pisacan.ca

My best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Chris Kennedy
Superintendent of Schools