The comparative performance of education systems is attracting more attention than ever before. In Canada, questions have been raised about whether we are keeping pace with the world’s leading education systems, and whether our performance has been eroding over time. There are also concerns about whether too many students from less advantaged backgrounds are being left behind. This report reviews the latest international evidence regarding achievement and equity in education. It shows that, in terms of achievement, Canada consistently places among an elite group of high performing countries and economies.
Moreover, Canada continues to be a leader in terms of equity: public schools in Canada are among the best in the world at helping to level the playing field between rich and poor children, and Canada is one of only a very few high-immigration countries that show no significant achievement gap between immigrants and non-immigrants. In fact, Canada distinguishes itself by its ability to combine high levels of achievement and high degrees of equity in education.
At the same time, Canada is not without its challenges. There has been a modest decline in Canada’s performance over time, and Canada’s relative advantage is diminishing as a number of other rapidly modernizing countries are catching up. And while the education attainment of Aboriginal peoples in Canada is increasing, the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples at the higher end of the education attainment spectrum is still getting wider. No matter how well Canada may have performed to date in any given international study, there is will always be a need to strive for improvement.
Author: Andrew Parkin
Last Updated: September 18, 2015