Nova Scotia 15-year-olds have performed above the international average in science, mathematics and reading in a respected international student assessment. The 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) measured student achievement in 57 countries, including Canada and each of the provinces. “Our students have again demonstrated that on the world stage we are among the best,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “The job ahead is to do even better. We need to do more to help our students excel.” Nova Scotia’s best showing was in science, placing 18th in the world out of the 67 jurisdictions assessed. When taking account of the range of results for each jurisdiction, there was statistically very little difference between Nova Scotia students and students in other parts of the country. Only four countries and three provinces — Alberta, B.C. and Ontario — significantly outperformed Nova Scotia in science. That performance was mirrored in reading and mathematics with Nova Scotia students ranking above average internationally, but below the Canadian average. Thirteen countries and five provinces significantly outperformed Nova Scotia in mathematics, while just five countries and three provinces surpassed Nova Scotia in reading. As a country, Canada placed third in science, behind Finland and Hong Kong. The strongest performing provinces were Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, which scored above the Canadian average. Canadian students were fourth in reading and seventh in mathematics. Among Nova Scotia results, the study found girls significantly outperformed boys in reading, while boys performed significantly better than girls in mathematics. There was no significant difference between boys and girls in science. The study also found Nova Scotia’s French-language schools performed significantly below English-language schools in both reading and science, consistent with other minority-language schools across the country. “This is a concern,” said Ms. Casey. “We will take steps to identify the issues behind these results and take measures to improve performance in these areas.” The PISA results come on the heels of the Programme for International Reading Study (PIRLS) released last week, which scored Grade 4 Nova Scotia students significantly above the world average in reading. The PISA study was administered to 2,441 students at 86 schools in April and May of 2006. The study, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, can be viewed at http://www.pisa.gc.ca/ .