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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 4, January/February 2005

B.C. students score well on PISA results

The Organization for Co-operation and Development carries out a testing program in 41 countries to produce international comparisons of "outcomes." In announcing the results, The Vancouver Sun front-page headline on December 7, 2004, said "B.C. students among world’s best in reading, math, science."

The results of this test of 15-year-old students reflect a decade of learning experiences. The high results for B.C. students do not reflect the changes to the education system made by the current government. The Liberals’ education policies will likely lead to worse results in future years.

The students who wrote the exams in 2003 were among the first to begin school using The Primary Program created in the early 1990s.

The Primary Program provided a good start by addressing the development of the whole child. It reflected an understanding that children learn through engagement and play, accommodating the broad range of children’s needs, their learning rates and styles with an integrated curriculum incorporating a variety of instructional models, strategies, and resources.

Changes made in the last three years will likely have a negative effect on the students who will be writing the PISA a decade from now:

  • larger class sizes
  • less support for students with special needs
  • changes to The Primary Program
  • increased standardized testing, thereby narrowing the curriculum, at the Grade 10 and 11 levels.

The country that has led all others in the two rounds of the PISA exam program is Finland. The school system in Finland does not use standardized tests that narrow the curriculum. We should be looking to Finland as a model, rather than bringing in approaches and "experts" from the U.S., whose system produces results that are not as good by these measures.

– Larry Kuehn

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