MEDIA RELEASE — December 10, 2010

Canadian Mathematical Society

December 10, 2010

Canada’s Math Score a Cause for Concern

OTTAWA, Ontario — The global test scores released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this week indicate that when it comes to math, the world is catching up on us. The PISA (Program for International Assessment) results showed Canada ranking in tenth place among 70 countries in math skills, down from seventh place in 2006.

The Canadian Mathematical Society sees the PISA results as a cause for concern. “The mathematical ability of Canadian students should be continually improving, not declining,” said Jacques Hurtubise, President of the CMS. “While our country has done fairly well, the basic math skills taught at the high school level cannot be ignored, as it is these skills that fuel and support the scientific and technological research that leads to competitive innovation.”

A math score of 496 is the OECD average. Canada’s score was 527. Shanghai was the top scorer on the mathematical scale with 600, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong. The United States received a score of 487.

“Though Canada’s score is currently above average, this may not be the case in the next survey if skills continue to decline,” said Dr. Hurtubise. “Shanghai’s score indicates that competition is getting stiffer and Canada should not be content to maintain an average standing. Mathematics skills are more vital than ever to our economic and social advancement, and Canada needs to be doing more to support this crucial element of our education system.”

The CMS advances the learning of mathematics in Canada through a wide range of educational activities, from regional math camps and national competitions to publications and education research.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Jacques Hurtubise, President
Canadian Mathematical Society
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
McGill University
Tel: (514) 343-7502
or Laura Alyea, Communications and
   Special Projects Officer
Canadian Mathematical Society
Tel: (613) 733-2662 ext. 728

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the national mathematics organization whose goal is to promote the advancement, discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding achievements.