Manitoba students last in Canada in science and math, second last in reading

By | December 3, 2019

Manitoba students scored dead last in math, last in science and second last in reading when compared to their Canadian peers, according to new student test results released Tuesday.

The results of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show Manitoba’s test scores are among the worst in the country. This continues a trend that has plagued the province for the past decade.

It shows Manitoba test scores have worsened in every category since the last PISA assessment in 2015. Those results ranked Manitoba second last in Canada in both science and reading and third last in math.

The PISA 2018 assessment — conducted by member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — tests the capabilities of 15-year-olds in reading, math and science literacy through a two-hour computer-based test. 

The results released Tuesday morning show Manitoba students are performing below the Canadian average in all three categories.

Manitoba’s education minister Kelvin Goertzen declined to do an interview, stating he does not comment on reports until they are public and would address the report after Tuesday’s question period. 

Performing below OECD average in math and science

New Brunswick is the only province with students with worst test scores than Manitoba in reading, according to the PISA test results.

They show New Brunswick (22 per cent) and Manitoba (20 per cent) had the highest percentages of “low achievers” in reading, meaning their results “did not reach the baseline level of reading proficiency that is required to participate fully in modern society,” according to the report.

Manitoba fared even worse in science and math.

Manitoba had the largest proportion of low achievers in math at 25 per cent and in science at 21 per cent. The average in Canada is 16 and 13 per cent, respectively. Manitoba students are performing below the OECD average in both categories.

The PISA tests were conducted in April and May in 2018 and tested almost 3,000 students in Manitoba. Overall, over 22,0000 Canadian students participated in the international tests which includes 79 countries. 

The test is conducted every three years and is one of two pan-Canadian tests typically used to measure Manitoba students’ abilities against their Canadian peers. 

The second is the Council of Ministers of Education’s pan-Canadian assessments, which is due late next year and tests Grade 8 students across the country. 

The Council of Ministers of Education’s pan-Canadian assessments in 2014 showed Manitoba was dead last in math, science and reading in their standardized tests. The results created a firestorm in the province and a pledge from the NDP government to implement changes to the system. 

Watch then-opposition leader Brian Pallister slam the NDP over bad test scores in 2014

Manitoba has the worst scores in math, science and reading, according to a national report on education. 1:55

Then-opposition leader Brian Pallister blasted the NDP over the 2014 results, telling the Winnipeg Free Press these results “are more than a wake-up call.”

“They’re a compelling indictment of the lack of progress and the lack of action on the part of this provincial government,” Pallister said in October of 2014.