Disadvantaged Students Fare Better in Canada

A recent study found that 4 out of 10 Canadian students from disadvantaged backgrounds did exceptionally well in school in spite of their socioeconomic circumstances. Canada ranks 7th in the world following China, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Japan and Turkey when it comes to leveling the playing field of education.

Resiliency Counts

Based on test scores collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada achieved a 39% rating, which puts it well above the world average of 31% when it comes to resiliency and academic performance. The tests covered math, science and reading skills, and according to OECD analyst Pablo Zoido, it shows that Canada has a strong education system and a relatively equitable society.

United States Lags

Countries that didn’t fare as well included France (30%), the United States (29%), Britain (24%) and Germany (23%).

What Works

The study found that self-confidence and adequate learning time were key ingredients for building resiliency, and that teachers who use strategies which encourage motivation and built on exisitng self-confidence benefitted students from disadvantaged situations the most.

What Do You Think?

Motivating kids and building on their existing skills to foster self-confidence was one of the most difficult aspects of teaching in my opinion. Often schools are not set up to allow for flexibility in terms of time and resources. What have you found or noted that’s worked in your neighborhood schools? Share your stories.

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Photo credit: USACE/Earth Day by USACE Europe District

25 comments

heather g.
heather g.5 years ago

When I arrived in Canada by plane 15 years ago, I asked some 5 people which mountain range lay below us. They didn't know the names or location of the Rockies nor of the Coastal Range. They also didn't recognise huge "clear-cuts" from the air. Over the years, similar discoveries entertain me. Today, an educated adult tried to convince me that the climate in BC is Mediteranean .. similar to that in California. She was indignant about it, so I hope she checks her facts later.

Myriam G.
Myriam G.5 years ago

a good education is among the first of human rights

Lori Ann H.
Lori Hone5 years ago

The US could learn a lot from Canada on many levels.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 5 years ago

Correction of typo - Oops, "privilege" - so much for my fine education!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 5 years ago

I totally agree with Nita. I went to a one room school, grades one to eight, and it even had a pot belly stove in the middle! I remember one girl, Jackie, burning her butt on it! We had one teacher for all. Shades of "Little House on the Prairie"! After my grade four, the school was expanded to two rooms. Almost all of those kids went on to university and all became useful, well educated citizens. The education was comprehensive. I too took departmental exams to complete grade thirteen and you knew exactly where you stood province wide. Sadly, I think the system has also declined here. Some is due to cutbacks and some due to the parental attitude that bestows instant self esteem upon the little darlings who are often made to feel they are "special" and entitled. Surprise. You're not. Work for your self esteem and appreciate your educational opportunities. The lack of this entitlement attitude is the reason feel so many immigrants excel. They KNOW education is a privelege and a necessity and are determine to take advantage of it.

Nita L.
N L.5 years ago

As a dual citizen (Canadian and American) I have seen education on both sides of the border. In my opinion (I am a University Professor) education has deteriorated over the past five decades in both countries. I was educated in Canada in a rural two classroom school (grades one to eight). I received an excellent education with no homework, an hour for lunch and two fifteen to twenty minute recesses. Grades 1 to 3 were in one classroom and the rest were in another classroom. One teacher was in the first classroom and the Principal taught the "big kids". After graduating from that school, we were "bussed" to a High School in a nearby town. There were five years of High School with lots of homework but all of it was relevant. We had to study five years of English and Mathematics, four years of French, History, Geography, Physical Education and Health, Latin or Greek, and an elective. At the end of this, we had to pass Provincial exams in all of the major areas (not Physical Education or the elective) before being admitted to a University. The Canadian system is no longer so rigorous, unfortunately. From what I can tell from watching my children struggle with the American system, it never was as good as the Canadian system at its best. In particular, I think that the idea of sending small children home with homework is totally insane. The job of children should be to play and to learn to interact with other children and their environment in UNSTRUCTURED ways. By thi

Tamara H.
Tamara H.5 years ago

Too bad teachers are forced to pick up the slack of what is lacking in the home. The good news is that these kids should end the cycle for their offspring.

Michael MacDonald

This is a generalization first of all
and second this is not going to last
seeing as the conservatives are cutting funds for public education left right and center even though the school boards are saying that they literally can't take another cut.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

Parents can destroy self-confidence and motivation by putting too much pressure on kids--but that is a middle class problem. Malnutrition can destroy intelligence--that is a low income problem. Schools need to feed low income students and supply them with school supplies. Education needs to be funded at the national level because the school districts with the most low income students and thus the greatest needs have the smallest tax base with which to pay for educating hard to educate students.

Hilary A.
Hilary S.5 years ago

re the poll, resiliency & self-confidence can surely be acquired anywhere children (or adults) are faced with challenges they manage to overcome by dint of personal effort.