Canada Near the Top

Canada’s youth fared among the best in the world in reading, mathematics and science, according to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assess-ment (PISA).

The major international study assessed the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds from 32 countries. About 265,000 students took part around the globe. The assessment will be repeated in 2003 and 2006.

Canada ranked near the top in the three areas. Finland was the only country to perform significantly better in reading. Japan and Korea were significantly better in mathematics, while students in Korea, Japan and Finland performed significantly better than Canada in science.

In Canada, about 30,000 students from more than 1,000 schools sat with papers and pencils at their desks for the assessment in the spring of 2000. About 4,000 students from 200 schools participated in Ontario.

Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) was pleased with the results.

"The PISA results are encouraging because they show that Ontario students measure up well against their international counterparts," says EQAO chair Peter Ross.

Ontario performed the same as Canada in reading and science but was slightly lower than Canada in mathematics, the PISA 2000 Ontario Report states.

PISA also looks at gender differences, how student performance relates to family background and the characteristics of schools where students do well.

The PISA 2000 Ontario Report is available at Knowledge and Skills for Life: First Results From PISA 2000 is available on the OECD’s web site

Quebec Launches Consultation on the Creation of a College of Teachers

The Office des professions du Québec (OPQ), which governs the province’s 45 self-regulated professions, has launched a consultation on the creation of a college of teachers in Quebec.

The OPQ launched the consultation in response to a request by the Conseil pédagogique interdisciplinaire du Québec (CPIQ), a group representing about 30 professional teaching associations. CPIQ supports the creation of a college based on a survey showing more than 75 per cent teacher support for a college.

At the heart of the debate in Quebec is the question: "Is the public at risk if a teacher is not competent?" Should the consultation conclude that the answer to the question is negative, the Code des professions du Québec — the law that applies to all self-regulated professions in Québec — would not apply and teachers would be denied the right to govern themselves.

Professional standards and recognition, accountability to the public and transparency are central themes of the public debate in Québec, as they were in Ontario. Opponents to the creation of a college also raise questions about the CPIQ survey, which was conducted by the firm Léger et Léger.

Following the consultation, the Office des professions du Québec will advise the government, which will make the final decision.

For more information on the creation of the College in Quebec, visit the CPIQ’s web site at or the OPQ’s web site at Both sites are in French only.

Kids Equal Big Business

Debbie Gordon can show you how the media industry is penetrating the psyche of children.

At age five, most kids can name 100 brands, she says. Gordon, who spent 20 years in the media and advertising industries, teaches media literacy workshops ( in elementary and middle schools in Ontario.

"I felt our industry had a responsibility to give something back to the children whose minds we fill with buy, listen and watch messages," she says.

Gordon has worked closely with teachers and principals to develop materials for these workshops. She offers an intricate knowledge and understanding of the selling techniques used to convince children to buy products. Canada’s 2.5 million ‘tweens,’ aged nine to 14, spend about $1.8 billion a year on items such as candy, clothes, shoes and music, a YTV survey says.

"I use these workshops as a vehicle to empower children — to help them realize the power they wield and the choices they have as consumers in a consumption driven world," says Gordon, who can be contacted at 416-462-3259.

In other media-related news, Canadian children are putting themselves at risk as they explore the Internet with little or no supervision, according to research findings released by the Media Awareness Network (MNet). Young Canadians in a Wired World: The Student’s View is a national investigation of Internet use among Canadian youth and can be found at

MNet is one of the largest educational web sites in Canada. It offers, in English and French, teaching resources, community programs, news, statistics and discussion forums pertaining to the media.

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