FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD students in B.C. are once again among the best in the world at math, science and reading, according to a major international assessment released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is conducted every three years and is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in the world.

Among the 65 participating countries and economies, only one jurisdiction statistically performed above B.C.’s range in reading, only two jurisdictions in science, and nine jurisdictions in mathematics. On a straight numerical rank basis, B.C. is sixth in both reading and science and 12th in mathematics. B.C. also demonstrated high equity in student performance, which is the gap between the highest- and lowest-performing students, showing the system is delivering high student achievement in an equitable manner.

This maintains B.C.’s historical position as one of the top performing jurisdictions in the world and, depending on the subject, puts B.C. 15-year-old students in a range above other high-performing jurisdictions such as Finland, Germany and Australia. In comparison to the other Canadian provinces, B.C students were top ranked in reading and science, and second only to Quebec in math.

It is important to note that while B.C. students did well in PISA 2012, student performance appears to have plateaued. Science and reading scores have been relatively stable over the past decade. Scores in mathematics are down from PISA 2003, but changed little since PISA 2006.

These foundational skills will be measured again through PISA 2015 but the OECD will, for the first time, also assess student competencies in collaborative problem-solving. Balancing the focus on both foundational skills and key competencies is a goal underlying the current transformation of B.C.’s K-12 curriculum.

The PISA 2012 results follow last year’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, which also demonstrated B.C.’s Grade 4 students were among the best readers in the world (ranked seventh among 45 jurisdictions).

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said: “This study demonstrates once again that B.C. has one of the best education systems in the world. It is a testament to the dedication of B.C.’s teachers and to the significant investment we make as a society in our children’s education.

“While these results are good news, they are no reason to be complacent. They show we’re solid on the basics but we must adapt to the changing needs of a rapidly changing world. In 2015, the OECD will begin to test for collaborative problem solving – the kind of skill increasingly in demand by employers around the world.

“I want to thank the BCTF for their help in developing our new curriculum which will help better prepare our students for the future.

“Through the BC Education Plan, we are working to transform our system. Our goal is to foster capable, engaged, confident young people ready to thrive and succeed on their life’s journey, wherever that may take them.”