Canada earns good grades on Education and Skills report card: provincial results are mixed

Canada is an overall "B" performer, as are B.C., Ontario and Alberta

OTTAWA, June 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Just as students are getting their year-end report card, The Conference Board of Canada is handing out its report cards on the education and skills performance of Canada and the provinces.

The first "How Canada Performs: Education and Skills" report card to include the provinces in the international ranking reveals that Canada as a whole gets a "B" grade and ranks near the top of the international class, based on the relatively strong performance of some of its most populous provinces. Significant differences, however, exist among the provinces.

British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta are the top-performing provinces, earning strong "B" grades; Quebec and Nova Scotia earn "C" grades; and the remaining five provinces are at the back of the class with "D" and "D-" grades.

"Canada has the highest rate of college attainment and the second-highest rate of high-school attainment among its international peers," said Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Industry and Business Strategy. "Canada delivers a high-quality education to people between the ages of 5 and 19 in core areas of reading, math and science."

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Canada ranks third among 16 peer countries on the Education and Skills report card, behind Japan and Finland.
  • British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta receive "B" grades on their report cards. These three provinces rank ahead of Canada as a whole.
  • Canadian students perform relatively well on reading, math and science skills, but Canada's performance on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills among adults earn mostly "C" grades.

However, the country's grades on the skills of adults are relatively weak. Adult skills include literacy, numeracy (mathematics) and problem-solving in technology-rich environments (the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and networks). These results have deteriorated over the past decade. Canada's other challenges are its low numbers of students graduating with a PhD and with degrees in science, math, computer science and engineering.

The Conference Board's Education and Skills report card is the second of six to be produced over the next year on Canadian and provincial socio-economic performance. This is the first year that provincial rankings are included in the analysis.

In this year's "Education and Skills" analysis, Canada ranked third among its international peers, behind Japan and Finland. The 16 peer countries assessed, and their corresponding grades, are:

  • "A" – Japan, Finland
  • "B" – Canada, Australia, Switzerland
  • "C" – Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden
  • "D" – Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, United States, France

Canada gets four "A" grades among the 23 education and skills indicators. In addition to "A"s on high-school and college attainment, Canada gets an "A" grade on ensuring that the gap between the math skills performance of immigrant youth relative to Canadian-born youth is small. Countries that emphasize economic criteria in their immigration system—such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia—generally do better on this indicator.

Canada earned "B" grades on reading, math and science skills tests administered by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The exceptions were an "A" grade for having a small share of 15-year-old students with inadequate reading skills, and a "C" grade for its low share of students with high-level science skills. However, Canada fared less well on adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills, leading to "C" grades on most of these indicators.

Canada's poorest grades are for the low numbers of PhD students graduating in 2011, and science, math, computer science and engineering students graduating in 2011 —both resulted in "D" grades. As these indicators are considered important contributors to advanced research and knowledge, poor results in these areas weaken Canada's innovation performance.

The Conference Board has launched research centres to address related challenges. The Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education will examine PSE issues, while the Centre for Business Innovation continues its work to improve Canada's innovation performance.

The How Canada Performs analysis measures how well Canada and its provinces are achieving their goal of a high and sustainable quality of life for their citizens. Six performance domains are assessed: Economy, Education and Skills, Innovation, Environment, Health, and Society. The Economy report card was published in May 2014. The remaining report cards will follow over the next year.

This is the first year that provincial rankings are included in the report cards. Data sources and report card methodology can be found on the How Canada Performs website.

View Chart "Report Card - Education and Skills"

View video commentary by Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Industry and Business Strategy.

 

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada



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