Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics

    A Profile of Minority-Language Students and Schools in Canada: Results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), 2009

    6. Conclusion

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    The data from PISA 2009 profiles a minority-language student population that typifies Canadian teenage life. In 2009, these 15-year-old students were leading a normal lifestyle that included school, work, volunteering and extracurricular activities. They were close to their parents, although not as inclined to discuss schooling with their parents as other topics. They appeared to be doing well in school, and were relatively positive about their school experiences. Importantly, they planned to continue their education beyond high school and felt positive about these future academic experiences.

    As well, they were planning for a future career although not all decisions had been finalized. The data indicate that they had help and support from parents and schools and that positive attitudes and behaviours were being expressed within their peer group.

    For the most part, minority-language students did not differ from their majority-language peers with some notable exceptions. In spite of very positive attitudes towards school, minority students did not feel they belonged at school to a greater degree than majority-language students, although their responses to other items about comfort at school were more positive.

    There was a lack of consistency between languages used at school for instruction and language used most often at home, yet the impact on PISA scores was generally non-significant. The poorer performance on PISA raises concerns and the data on student characteristics sheds little light on why these weaker performances occurred.

    According to the 2009 PISA data, minority-language schools had a greater propensity to come from smaller communities and the class sizes were smaller than for majority schools. Principals in schools attended by the minority-language students indicated that they had concerns about the quality of some of their educational material and were experiencing shortages in important areas that principals in majority-language schools were not experiencing.

    Future analysis of the PISA data for minority-language students and schools should include trend analysis. This would help illuminate where changes have occurred on student and school level characteristics and how these changes over time relate to PISA scores. Regression analysis could also be informative, allowing a number of variables of interest to be included in a model that would help explain some of the differences in PISA scores between minority and majority populations.

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