PISA INSIGHTS: NAVIGATING CHALLENGES & EMPOWERING PARENTS FOR STEM SUCCESS

Dec 14, 2023 | Red Deer

PISA latest result is out!! PISA is the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment. It measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

Here are some highlights from the most recent PISA math results – just for Canada:

  • The 15-year-olds Canadian students’ math knowledge and skills have been STEADILY DECLINING since the beginning of the millennia. From 532 in 2003 to just 497 in 2022. It has been declining since way before Covid, and never once it increased during those years.
  • Immigrant students scored higher in mathematics than non-immigrant students. The gap as not significant in 2018 but immigrant students profoundly outperformed their non-immigrant peers in 2022. This goes against the common misconception that the higher of immigrant students correlate with lower performance.
  • Within Canada, Quebec and Alberta outperformed the national mean score. Internationally Quebec is at the 7th position after Korea, and Alberta claimed the 10th spot following Switzerland; Canada held the 13th position, followed by British Columbia and Ontario.

Impact on Students

Academic Struggle. Math proficiency is on the decline for all types of students, whether advanced or struggling students. This decline can significantly impact students in their academic achievements and future careers. The unfortunate reality is that the future job landscape will be predominantly in the STEM area, and a lack of math proficiency could limit their career options. Unlike their parents' generation, where moderate math skills were sufficient, today's students are navigating a shifting landscape that demands a higher level of math proficiency. Our role as parents is to transform these challenges into opportunities.

Global Competitiveness. The demand for STEM professionals in Canada is soaring, with thousands of job openings expected in the coming years. However, the decline in math proficiency poses a risk of a shortage in the domestic STEM workforce. This year Immigration Canada has introduced the Express Entry category-based draw, giving priority to STEM occupations. The pandemic has further facilitated remote work, making it feasible to perform IT jobs from outside the country. Consequently, the outsourcing of IT jobs from beyond Canada's borders has become more common.

So, if you believe there's no cause for concern as parents, considering that according to PISA results Alberta's math proficiency ranked higher than most other provinces and considered the top 10 internationally, it's essential to recognize that the workforce extends beyond Canada's borders. While the jobs may be local, whether in Calgary, Edmonton or Joffre, the competition for these positions is on a global scale.

PISA Math Scores (2).jpg

What does it mean for us parents?

It would be interesting to know why this constant decline persists year after year, despite curriculum changes and government efforts. Additionally, exploring why immigrant students outscore non-immigrants raises important questions.

However, delving into these issues requires comprehensive research and transparency in educational practices—something beyond our capacity and authority as individuals or parents.

Engaged with your child’s math education. Whether immigrants or not, students whose parents are actively engaged with their children’s education and believe that academic performance is the key for success tend to demonstrate higher levels of motivation and confidence, leading to improved academic outcomes.

At Mathnasium of Red Deer, we've seen the incredible dedication of parents who consistently bring their children to the centre, regardless of weather conditions. Rain or shine, these dedicated moms and dads patiently wait for their kids’ 1 or 1.5-hour sessions to finish, demonstrating remarkable commitment. Over the years, their unwavering dedication has led to thriving, confident students who readily face academic challenges. They really are the unsung heroes of their kids’ success!

Short-term vs long-term gain. Many students – and unfortunately parents – often adopt short-term mindsets when it comes to studying math. Their focus is on passing the grade rather than building a solid foundation for long-term success. A 60% grade may seem acceptable, but it indicates a 40% gap in understanding—this is without considering factors like attendance and behavior that may contribute to the final grade, making it an imperfect measure of math proficiency.

Spotting difficulties with math early on is key. Struggling with fractions in middle school may indicate weak multiplication and division skills, which should have been mastered in elementary. These issues may stem from insufficient grasp of addition and subtraction skills in lower elementary grades. Being proactive and taking immediate action when noticing these signs ensures effective and lasting support for your child's math development.

Trust The Math Expert for Your Child’s Math Support

I have a dog with long hair, a Havanese, and just three months after a haircut, she's already due for another one because her fur grows so fast! During Covid, when everything was on lockdown, I decided to play dog groomer with a pair of scissors. She ended up looking like Chewbacca's quirky cousin! Lesson learned: attempting a DIY doggie haircut is as adventurous as trying to tackle numerical fluency without the right expertise. Don't let your child's math education end up like my dog's unfortunate fur situation—trust the math experts for a smoother, more stylish outcome!

For instance, multiplication. You might now how to do multiplication – but how about TEACHING multiplication? Hey, it’s easy – just give them times tables and ask them to memorize it, just like what our teachers or parents did to us when we were young – right?

While you might know how to do it, guiding someone else requires a thoughtful approach. Simply memorizing times tables may seem like the quick fix, but for fostering true number sense, a more strategic method is essential. A reliable math learning center, like Mathnasium, not only ensures fluency in multiplication but imparts problem-solving strategies that extend beyond, enabling your kids to tackle a range of mathematical challenges with confidence and understanding.

Trust the math expert – like trusting the dog grooming professional. Just as you rely on a skilled groomer for your dog's perfect haircut, entrust your child's math education to experts who understand the nuances of teaching ensures a long-lasting impact in your child’s learning journey, extending far beyond the classroom.

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