Red Deer Public School District - International Services

International Services Program (About Us)

Why Study in Alberta?

Alberta’s education system is internationally renowned. The Alberta High School Diploma is recognized across North America and throughout the world. Many of our high school graduates continue their education at Alberta’s fine post secondaryi nstitutions; others go on to attend some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world.

Alberta students consistently score top marks on international tests such as the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

For further information on quality education in Alberta please download the following docuements:


December 4, 2007

Alberta's 15-year olds place among world's best on international tests

Edmonton... For the second time in a week, international test results have placed Alberta students among the world’s best. This time, the results of the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that Alberta’s students have jumped from fourth to second place in science, the focus subject for the 2006 tests.

In science, Alberta scored second highest in the world behind Finland. Alberta is the only province whoseoverall science score, as well as each individual test score, is significantly higher than the Canadian average.

In the two minor areas of study, Alberta tied for third in reading and tied for fifth in mathematics.“

Alberta’s students are achieving incredible things,” said Minister of Education, Ron Liepert. “Student success is a collaboration of the efforts of teachers, parents, students and all educational stakeholders. This ensures that Alberta is recognized as an educational leader worldwide and our students are positioned for great things in a global context. ”

Comparison of performance in science between immigrant and non-immigrant students is another area of interest in PISA 2006. Alberta is the only jurisdiction whose immigrant students not only performed significantly better than, or as well as, the average non-immigrant students in Canada, but these students also
demonstrated no difference with their non-immigrant counterparts within Alberta. This is contrary to international and national trends that non-immigrant youth tend to outperform their immigrant peers.“

Our results show that Alberta can be held as a model for helping immigrant students achieve excellence in their education,” said Liepert.

PISA is administered every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The tests assess the international achievement of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science. In Alberta, approximately 2,000 students from 90 schools, together with other sampled students from 57
countries, participated in the test in the spring of 2006. 2006 marks the third time Alberta participated in this programme.

Supporting student learning is part of Premier Ed Stelmach’s plan to secure Alberta’s future by building communities, greening our growth and creating opportunity.

See the test results and how Alberta and Canada compare to countries around the world.

PISA Testing 2006.pdf

December 7, 2004

Alberta students show strong results on international tests...

Edmonton... Alberta students continue to achieve excellent results on international tests, sharing the highest scores in reading, improving from third to second in mathematics and ranking fourth in science. The results are from the 2003 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

"These test results confirm that Alberta students are among the best in the world," said Minister of Education, Gene Zwozdesky. "I am very proud of their achievements which demonstrate that students benefit from our province's excellent teachers, high-quality centralized curriculum, outstanding learning and teaching resources, and standardized assessment program."

PISA is administered every three years and assesses the international achievement of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science. In Alberta, over 2,400 students from 120 schools participated in the test. Alberta is the only province whose average scores are significantly higher than the Canadian average in every area tested.

"Participating in international testing is an important component of our learning system," said Zwozdesky. "It gives Albertans the chance to see how well our students are doing in relation to other students around the world."

In 2000, Alberta students scored the highest of all participants on the reading component of the PISA tests. Alberta students had the third highest rankings in science (behind Korea and Japan) and mathematics (behind Japan and Quebec). In 2000, the tests focused on reading and literacy. PISA 2003 focused on mathematics and a new content area called problem-solving skills. Problem-solving questions test a student's ability to solve real-life situations requiring more than one subject area, such as using a map to calculate the shortest distance between two routes.

A copy of the Canadian results published in Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD

PISA 2003 Study is available from the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada at

For more information on PISA, visit

This announcement is available on the Internet at:

This article below from the Septemmber "Economist" can be found here.

Clever red-necks
Sep 21st 2006 | VANCOUVER
From The Economist print edition
It's not just the economy that is booming; schools are too

MANY eastern Canadians do not think much of Alberta's roaring economic success. They love putting down their wealthy western cousins as loutish rednecks who have the dumb luck to be sitting on pools of oil and natural gas. They do not seem to have noticed that the entire Albertan economy—not just the energy sector—is booming, growing faster than that of any other province. Maybe, with this kind of surging growth year after year, something more than a lucky inheritance is involved. It could be that Albertans are actually doing some things right in building their economy.

Many educators acknowledge that over the past 30 years Alberta has quietly built the finest public education system in Canada. The curriculum has been revised, stressing core subjects (English, science, mathematics), school facilities and the training of teachers have been improved, clear achievement goals have been set and a rigorous province-wide testing programme for grades three (aged 7-8), six (10-11), nine (13-14) and twelve (16-17) has been established to ensure they are met.

It is all paying off. Alberta's students regularly outshine those from other Canadian provinces: in 2004 national tests, Alberta's 13- and 16-year-olds ranked first in mathematics and science, and third in writing. And in international tests they rank alongside the best in the world: in the OECD's 2003 PISA study, the province's 15-year-olds scored among the top four of 40 countries in mathematics, reading and science (see table).

Elsewhere in Canada, especially British Columbia and Ontario, dissatisfaction with public-school standards is increasingly driving parents to pack their children off to private schools. Over the past decade, the proportion of students in such schools has risen by 20% in Canada as a whole, and double that in Ontario. But the private system does not have the same appeal in Alberta, where some 80% of parents say they are happy with the public schools.

This is especially true in the province's capital of Edmonton, which is noted for its innovative system stressing choice, accountability and competition. Funding there is based on the number of students in a school. Each school controls its own budget, spending money on its own educational priorities (such as improving aboriginal-student results), while following the provincial curriculum. Students are free to (and 57% do) attend any school in the city, not just in their own neighbourhood. They can seek out schools specialising in the arts, sports, leadership skills, girls-only education, aboriginal culture, Mandarin, and many other alternative programmes—or simply choose the schools with the best academic results. Students in every grade are tested annually and their scores published.

The results are also used to improve teaching. There is currently a citywide push to ensure that all children in Edmonton can read competently by grade three (88% now can). Far from fearing private-school competition, the city's public system has embraced it: it has already absorbed three private religious schools (two Christian, one Hebrew). “In Edmonton,” says Angus McBeath, the city's recently retired schools chief, “the litmus test is that the rich send their kids to the public schools, not the private schools.”

Another litmus test is the extent to which Edmonton's ideas are being studied by educators from elsewhere (mostly the United States, but some also from Ontario and British Columbia) and are now being emulated. Pilot projects on the Edmonton model have already been launched by school boards in Colorado Springs, Oakland and New York City.

All this is not to say that they have all the answers in Alberta. Their rigorous measurement scheme has revealed that schools still need to do a lot better teaching aboriginal and immigrant children and ensuring that more students finish high school. At present, about 30% of students drop out early, compared with 25% for the country as a whole. That, Alberta's educators admit, is an embarrassing statistic. But in the province's red-hot economy, a 17-year-old with a driver's licence can drop out and easily make C$60,000 ($53,300) a year driving a lorry serving an oil-drilling camp. That's tough competition.