With assessments canceled by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) during the pandemic, Ontario parents have been left in the dark about how children in the province are performing in school.
Luckily for them, the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP), which tests thousands of Class 8 students across the country every three years, has just made its latest results public.
Ontario students performed above average in all three categories of tests – math, reading, and science. Ontarians achieved the highest average score in reading of all the provinces and joined Alberta and Prince Edward Island as the only other provinces to have science scores above Canada’s average.
In math, Ontario had the second highest average score, slightly above the national score but below Quebec’s score.
In an assessment conducted in 2019, 90 percent of Canadian Grade 8 students displayed a “foundational proficiency” in math, which requires “a need to demonstrate the competencies needed to participate effectively in math-related real-life situations.” The examiner is required.”
To achieve these results, PCAP, run by the Council of Ministers for Education, Canada (CMEC), tested approximately 30,000 Grade 8 students from nearly 1,600 schools across the country in math, reading and science. That year the focus was on mathematics, which meant that there were more math questions in the exam relative to the other two areas of assessment.
The PCAP found that students enrolled in Francophone schools performed better in mathematics than in Anglophone schools. However, the opposite was observed for the reading and science categories, in which they performed worse.
“We currently do not have an explanation for why students perform differently in Francophone and Anglophone schools,” said CMEC’s executive director, Chantelle Leclerc. He added that “further analysis on relevant factors” could help them understand why in the future.
The test also found that girls performed better in reading than boys in all provinces. In science, girls outperformed boys in five provinces, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Girls and boys performed equally in mathematics across the country.
“We do not plan to conduct further analysis on the science and reading performance at this time,” LeClerc said. “However, we will conduct additional analysis of some background variables that may help explain differences in performance in mathematics.”
An upcoming report, “PCAP 2019: Relevant Reports on Student Achievement in Mathematics,” is under way, said Leclerc, which will explore how “resources and school and classroom situations, as well as student characteristics and family circumstances , can affect math achievement. among grade 8/secondary second students.”
The PCAP is designed to consider factors such as linguistic differences, rural and urban school locations, and cultural influences in its assessment. While the test questions are being prepared, Leclerc explains that experts review the material to make sure there is no bias that may favor some students over others.
LeClerc said, participating students, as well as their teachers and principals, completed questionnaires that are “designed to provide relevant information to aid in the interpretation of test scores”.
“Since the primary domain of the 2019 PCAP assessment was mathematics, relevant questions addressed factors that have been found to correlate with math achievement in previous studies,” she said.
Examples of this include: “Parents’ level of education, language spoken in the home, number of books in the home, students’ attitudes and beliefs, students’ learning experiences, and support for student learning.”
Relevant questionnaires given to teachers proceed by inquiring about “teaching and learning status, including teachers’ homework expectations, assessment practices, areas of expertise, and years of teaching experience”.
The version of the questionnaire given to school principals asks about “the structure and organization of the school, the school environment, school policies and practices, and curriculum and instruction”.
A good news from the assessment this time for all students is that the achievement in all three categories, reading, maths and science, has increased across the board since the last tests. Maths and reading results increased by 10 and five points, respectively, since 2010, and science scores increased by four points since 2013.
Although LeClerc was unable to say whether performance growth would continue, she attributed this most recent success to learning initiatives from individual provinces and territories.
“The provinces and territories are working hard to provide high quality education to the students,” she said. “PCAP 2019 math results show that hard work is paying off: More than 90 percent of Canadian students met or exceeded expectations.”