Canadian kids getting worse at math, according to international PISA scores

Math scores falling

Canadian kids are getting worse at math.

A new report from B.C.'s Fraser Institute finds declining math scores nationwide since 2003.

Students in every province recorded declining results in international math tests from 2003 to 2018, the study found.

Declines were steepest in Manitoba with a decrease of 8.7 per cent, followed by Alberta (6.9 per cent), and British Columbia (6.3 per cent).

They were least severe in Quebec (0.7 per cent), Prince Edward Island (2.6 per cent) and Ontario (3.2 per cent).

“Mathematics holds a position of strategic importance in the school curriculum, especially in our increasingly digital world, which makes these signs of declining math performance by Canadian students all the more worrisome,” said Derek Allison, professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario, a Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of the report.

The scores were based on results from the Programme for International Student Assessment.

The study found that Canada fell from fifth highest among the 37 participant countries in 2003 to 12th place among 78 participating jurisdictions in 2018.

PISA scores declined in every province over that period – and even in the provinces' own assessments, math scores have declined, the Fraser Institute says.

“By almost every measure, math scores are declining across the country,” said report co-author Vincent Geloso.

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