Volume 96, Issue 98
Thursday, April 3, 2003

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Education Ministers unite

By Liz Donaldson
Gazette Staff

Ministers responsible for secondary education from across Canada met in London this week and agreed on an action plan to further strengthen pan-Canadian collaboration on a series of key education issues.

The main issue discussed was a new assessment program for Canadian students, which will replace the School Achievement Indicators Program currently in place.

The new Pan-Canadian Assessment Program will initially assess student performance in the core subjects of reading, mathematics and science. It is designed so other subjects, such as second languages, information and communications technologies and the arts can be added as the need arises. It is to replace the SAIP by 2006.

"The beauty of PCAP is that it enables us to assess the performance of our education systems here in Canada, but also dove-tails with the important international assessments we are doing," said Dianne Cunningham, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Council of Ministers of Education in Canada chair, in a press release. "By integrating existing testing programs, PCAP greatly eases the testing burden on schools."

"We're definitely looking at finding a standardized testing program across Canada," confirmed Alberta's Minister of Learning Lyle Oberg.

The issue of international competitiveness was also of great importance across the Council.

"We can do a lot with regards to curriculum and training programs, but the real benefit to students is that they will be competitive around the world," Cunningham added.

CMEC also spoke of the need for Canadian students and parents to have confidence in their education system, adding measures are being taken to hold schools accountable for students' progress.

"Our young people need to know that they're getting a good education," Cunningham explained.

"Parents are very interested in their children's progress and many provinces are looking at accountability contracts to keep track of our schools' performances," said Shirley Bond, British Columbia's Minister of Advanced Education.

On a more Ontario-centric level, Cunningham addressed the issue of students losing their OAC year, which she said would sacrifice no international or national competitive edge for students.

"We're simply catching up with the rest of North America [with regards to curriculum]. It always comes down to a matter of competition," Cunningham said.


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