71st Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education


The ministers of education from Canada's provinces and territories announced today that they will take steps to improve their students' achievement in science. The move came following a review of the results of a national science test that were released at the end of January.

"When we undertook the SAIP (School Achievement Indicators Program) in 1989, our objective was to obtain information to help us make better policy decisions," said the Honourable J.Chester Gillan, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). "That is exactly how we intend to use these results."

CMEC has undertaken a project aimed at achieving greater coherence in science education across the country. The Pan-Canadian Science Project, involving all provinces and territories except Quebec, is developing a common framework of science outcomes at the K-12 level. The project is expected to define more clearly what students are expected to know and be able to do at regular stages in their school experience.

Ministers stated that they will continue sharing information on best practices in science education. "If some provinces or territories are doing much better than others in terms of student achievement, then we want to know what they are doing to get those superior results, " said Mr. Gillan, who is Minister of Education for Prince Edward Island.

The science assessment was part of a national assessment program being carried out by CMEC in three key subject areas using Canadian-developed instruments and criteria. The first of the assessments, in mathematics, was administered in 1993 and the second, in reading and writing, in 1994.

Ministries of education have been using the results of the assessments to review their education policies. As a result of the 1994 reading and writing assessment, for example, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba have been working together to determine why their francophone students scored lower than anglophones.

"What we learn from each other in our exchange of information on exemplary practices will enable us to introduce changes in such things as curriculm and teacher training," said Mr. Gillan at the close of a CMEC meeting in Toronto. "SAIP is an extremely valuable tool for helping policy makers make more informed decisions. "

SAIP, which is funded by all provinces and territories and by Human Resources Development Canada, has just entered its second cycle, with the next round of mathematics assessments scheduled for this spring.



Boyd Pelley, CMEC
(416) 964-2551, ext. 241
E-mail: boyd@cmec.ca

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