Toronto, December 20, 2007- Ontario’s students have a lot to be proud of. They are showing themselves to be world-class when it comes to international comparisons in student achievement. Grade 10 students are in the top five countries in the world in Science, Mathematics and Reading. The reading skills of Grade 4 students are in the top three. These results come from the 2006 PISA study, an assessment of 15 year-olds sponsored by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and, in the case of Grade 4 students, from the 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
What makes these results particularly outstanding is our Ontario context. Thirty-eight per cent of participating Ontario students in the PIRLS Grade 4 literacy test speak a language other than the language of the test at home. This is well above the international average of 29%. In the PISA study, the results are remarkable as much for the picture they paint of equity in student achievement as for the high scores themselves. Socio-economic factors play a much smaller role in differences in achievement among the participating Grade 10 students than is the case almost anywhere else in the world.
“The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association congratulates Ontario’s students, their parents, their teachers and school leaders for putting the province and Canada prominently on the map of academic excellence,” said Colleen Schenk, President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.
What does this mean to the individual school and the individual student?
In Peel, Grade 4 students from McBride Avenue Public School excelled in the 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). This was an outstanding accomplishment given that the language of the home for nearly half of these students is not English. McBride Avenue’s entrance hall is a mini-United Nations featuring forty-nine different flags of the countries of birth of the school’s student population.
“The excellent results obtained by our students show that they measure up academically to the highest achieving students on the world stage,” said Principal Albert Evans. “Our teachers have developed a team planning approach and this has made a huge difference for our students as they build strong language acquisition skills.”
At Middlefield Collegiate in York Region, Principal Tony Lewis said students in his school did not have to take extraordinary steps to prepare for the PISA assessment. “We have an excellent staff who are very passionate about their work in teaching science. This is reinforced by a culture of collaborative learning that includes peer tutoring and informal group learning among students after class. Our students come from many nations around the world, where the educational opportunities we offer here are not available to the same extent. A great many of these young people are highly motivated to succeed, both in and out of school,” Mr. Lewis said.
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