Measured Proficiency of Ethnic Groups in Canada

Jason Malloy and I have individually collected a large number of papers and research reports from countries around the world detailing ethnic and racial differences. I have sent some of the stuff to Richard Lynn, lost a number of reports due to hard drive failures, and simply haven’t got around for various reasons (time, health, other priorities, etc.) to posting on the remainder. In response to an article by Chanda Chrisala, James Thompson recently suggested that it would be informative to look at ethnic differences in other American countries. As such, I will comment on a few studies from Canada and Brazil. Regarding Canada, there seems to be no published detailed ethnic data for the nation as a whole — though many reports discuss the Aboriginal/overall Canada gap. The country has a number of national longitudinal surveys which most likely contain the relevant variables, but as far as I am aware no has looked into the issue. Nonetheless, since the 1980s the Toronto public schools have published research reports which decompose math and reading pass rates by linguistic, ethnic, and racial background.

Here I will summarize Brown et al. (2008), Brown et al. (2014), Presley and Brown (2011), and Yau et al. (1992) in table form. Brown and Siney (2008) report 2006 reading, math, science, and writing attainment level rates for grades 7 and 8 as well as reading, math, science, and geography rates for grade 9, and Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) pass rates for grade 10. I converted the grades 7 to 9 level 3 and 4 math and reading and grade 10 OSSLT pass rates into standardized differences using the method of thresholds and then normed them on the Toronto White (European) mean. As a result of the heterogeneity in the sample, the standard deviations would have been inflated by about 20%, reducing the White/Other gaps by the same amount. I did not make corrections for this or compute composite scores. The OSSLT seems to be highly language loaded; moreover the pass rates were based on all 10th graders who could have taken the exam (those who were absent for it, who deferred it, and who took it). On account of both of these factors, this is a questionable index. Thus, I excluded it when computing average scores. Brown et al. (2015) report 2012 grade 7 and 8 reading, math, science, and writing attainment level rates as well as grade 10 OSSLT pass rates for Afghans, Spanish language speakers, Portuguese language speakers, Somalis, and Aborigines. White rates were not provided, but rather Toronto district rates were. As such I estimated the 2010/2012 White rates based on Brown and Siney’s (2008) report. I computed the percent Toronto district over percent White rates for 2006 and used this to estimate 2010/2012 White rates given the 2010/2012 district ones. For OSSLT I reported standardized differences computed using the estimated 2012 White rates, which came out lower than the 2006 ones (less plausible), and using the 2006 rates (more plausible, since it’s more likely that increased immigration depressed the 2012 Toronto OSSLT rates than that the White ones dropped; for Ontario as a whole, the 2006 to 2012 rates stayed the same and were commensurate with the 2006 Toronto White rates). Presley and Brown (2011) reported 2006 and 2010 math rates for grade 6 Portuguese language speakers. To summarize the results, I employed the same strategy as above. Yau et al. (1993) reported 1991 proficient rates for all students in the Toronto public school system. I used their “high in both English and Math rates” from their Table 4 for ethnic and language groups and from Figure 23 for racial divisions. This strategy generally had the effect of inflating gaps, but I did not feel like combining scores across ability levels. For scores based on Brown et al. (2014), Presley and Brown (2011), and Yau et al. (1992), I reported sample sizes in parentheses next to the groups.

Overall, the results confirm the existence of a Black/White gap in Canada. The deficit exists for African born, Caribbean born, and Canadian born self-identified Blacks. The 2006 results also show little to no South Asian/White differences, consistent with findings from the U.K and continental Europe. As found elsewhere, (north) East Asians generally perform better than Whites. Between 2006 and 2012 the proficiency of Somali speakers improved some. This could be because a greater percent were Canadian born in 2012 (82%) than 2006 (not reported) or because in 2008 the Toronto school district passed and has since acted on an initiative “for improving the success of Black students”. Since percent pass rates are flexible, with dedicated effort, it’s possible to raise them significantly, especially when subgroups are small. Alternatively, the difference could owe to sampling. White subgroups such as Italians performed low in 1991. It is not clear why. To note, the 1991 results are not directly comparable with the 2006 ones. Also, It’s not clear how well the scores differences would generalize across Canada.

Proficiency in Toronto                          
From: Brown et al. (2008)                          
 
  2006 Grade 7 and 8         2006 Grade 9         2006 Grade 10 OSSLT   Grade 7/8, 9 Average
 
Birth Region                          
  N Reading N Math Average N English N Math Average N OSSLT Average
                           
Canada 22320 0.17 22304 0.03 0.10 11776 0.18 11776 0.13 0.15 11864 0.30 0.13
                           
Eastern Asia 2664 -0.16 2654 -0.26 -0.21 1626 0.31 1626 -0.69 -0.19 2079 0.73 -0.20
Southeastern Asia 309 0.22 309 -0.06 0.08 230 0.46 230 -0.03 0.22 303 0.81 0.15
                           
Eastern Europe 789 0.03 788 -0.11 -0.04 600 0.16 600 -0.30 -0.07 793 0.30 -0.06
South & Western Europe 344 0.00 345 -0.11 -0.06 193 0.16 193 -0.13 0.02 220 0.23 -0.02
South Asia 2649 0.17 2649 0.03 0.10 1574 0.31 1574 -0.13 0.09 1830 0.68 0.09
Western Asia 1149 0.36 1149 0.26 0.31 696 0.66 696 0.20 0.43 858 0.99 0.37
                           
Central & South America           316 0.66 316 0.36 0.51 383 0.94 0.51
                           
Caribbean (English Speaking) 387 0.84 387 0.77 0.80 282 0.74 282 0.79 0.77 272 0.99 0.79
Western Africa 109 0.38 109 0.26 0.32               0.32
Eastern African 283 0.71 283 0.44 0.57 181 0.77 181 0.56 0.67 388 1.48 0.62
                           
Race                          
                           
East Asian 5285 -0.19 5293 -0.58 -0.39 2908 0.03 2908 -0.63 -0.30 3084 0.36 -0.34
South East Asian 1347 0.09 1347 -0.20 -0.06 581 0.13 581 -0.20 -0.04 3012 0.39 -0.05
                           
White 9687 Reference 9698 Reference Reference 5231 Reference 5231 Reference Reference 5329 Reference  
Middle Eastern 1490 0.46 1490 0.36 0.41 780 0.64 780 0.28 0.46 768 0.81 0.43
South Asian 6769 0.14 6786 -0.06 0.04 3089 0.21 3089 -0.10 0.05 3012 0.39 0.05
                           
Latin 574 0.51 574 0.46 0.49 324 0.59 324 0.50 0.54 338 0.68 0.51
Mixed 1907 0.22 1908 0.24 0.23 881 0.26 881 0.23 0.24 832 0.23 0.24
                           
Black 4699 0.76 4702 0.74 0.75 1945 0.69 1945 0.66 0.67 1875 0.83 0.71
                           
All-weighted 31758 0.17 31798 0.06 0.11 15739 0.19 15739 -0.03 0.08 18250 0.36 0.10
                           
(For Black Subgroup)                          
                           
Black African 387 0.68 387 0.51 0.60 208 0.72 208 0.59 0.66 269 1.01 0.63
Black Carribean 346 0.89 346 0.85 0.87 191 0.64 191 0.69 0.66 231 1.32 0.77
Black Canadian 3865 0.76 3869 0.74 0.75 1483 0.64 1483 0.69 0.66 1299 0.73 0.71
                           
Language                          
                           
Chinese 4455 -0.16 4462 -0.58 -0.37 2385 0.08 2385 -0.57 -0.25 2672 0.45 -0.31
Korean 603 -0.22 604 -0.58 -0.40 383 0.26 383 -0.60 -0.17 458 0.54 -0.29
Vietnamese 595 0.00 594 -0.39 -0.20 319 -0.05 319 -0.36 -0.20 312 0.36 -0.20
                           
Russian 460 0.06 461 -0.17 -0.06 298 0.31 298 -0.25 0.03 383 0.45 -0.01
                           
Bengali 525 -0.09 525 -0.29 -0.19 282 0.05 282 -0.28 -0.11 319 0.30 -0.15
Gujardi 597 0.17 599 -0.11 0.03 292 0.23 292 -0.28 -0.02 333 0.62 0.00
Farsi 714 0.41 718 0.29 0.35 390 0.64 390 0.31 0.47 423 0.91 0.41
Punjabi 577 0.20 580 -0.03 0.09 283 0.16 283 0.05 0.10 282 0.54 0.09
Tamil 1943 0.12 1944 -0.23 -0.06 821 0.21 821 -0.20 0.00 812 0.42 -0.03
Urdu 1181 0.25 1182 0.13 0.19 601 0.38 601 0.03 0.20 674 0.62 0.20
                           
Somali 647 0.81 646 0.64 0.73 319 0.86 319 0.87 0.86 323 0.86 0.79
                           
From: Brown et al. (2014)                          
                           
  2012 Grade 7 and 8 Reaadng   Math Average             2012 Grade 10 OSSLT Grade 7/8
                           
Somali (748)   0.69   0.57 0.63             0.61/ 0.70 0.63
                           
Aborigine (2567)   0.57   0.64 0.60             0.54/ 0.62 0.60
                           
Afghan (3474)   0.46   0.36 0.41             0.93/ 1.01 0.41
                           
Spanish (2433)   0.57   0.54 0.55             0.67/ 0.76 0.55
                           
Portuguese (145)   0.36   0.12 0.24             0.39/ 0.51 0.24
                           
From: Presley and Brown (2011)                          
                           
        2006 Grade 6                 Average
                           
Portuguese       0.77                 0.77
        2010 Grade 6                  
                           
Portuguese       0.63                 0.63
                           
From: Yau et al. (1991)                          
                          1991 (Percent for Advance)
Race                          
                           
Asian (8000)                         -0.29
                           
White (14500)                         Reference
                           
Black (2000)                         0.45
                           
Aboriginal                         0.61
 
Language/Culture                          
 
Chinese (31000)                         -0.45
Indochina (2800)                         -0.18
Korean (400)                         -0.52
Tamil (500)                         0.20
Indian (500)                         -0.09
                           
English (5800)                         -0.03
Portuguese (2500)                         0.32
Jewish (1300)                         -0.47
Italian (800)                         0.32
Polish (400)                         -0.09
                           
Black Canadian (900)                         0.32
Black Caribbean (800)                         0.67
Black African (600)                         0.45
                           
Hispanic (900)                         0.45

References

Brown, R. S., & Sinay, E. (2006). student census: Linking demographic data with student achievement. Toronto District School Board Research Report. Organizational Development Department, Research and Information Services. (pdf)

Brown, R., Newton, L., & Tam, G. (2015). The Toronto District School Board’s student group overviews: Aboriginal heritage, Afghan, Portuguese-speaking, Somali-speaking, and Spanish-speaking students. (Research Report No. 14/15-31). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Toronto District School Board (pdf)

Presley, A., & Brown, R. S. (2011). Portuguese-speaking students in the TDSB: An overview (No. 11/12, p. 01). Report. (pdf)

Yau and others (1992.The 1991 Every Secondary Student Survey, Part III:Program Level and Student Achievement No. 205.Toronto Board of Education (Ontario) .ResearchDept. (pdf)

6 thoughts on “Measured Proficiency of Ethnic Groups in Canada

    • The West African/White gaps seem to be smaller than the East African/W gaps in 7/8 grade.
      math:.38 vs .71 and Reading .26 vs .44. Unfortunately East and W African groups are not broken down.

      • Small sample sizes entail large confidence intervals.

        These would have been African born kids, a point which is interesting for reasons discussed earlier. (Either they are highly selected OR African physiological g isn’t depressed much OR the tests aren’t great indexes of g.)

        • Is it possible that some foreign born kids arrive in the west at early enough ages to mitigate some of the effects of disease burden(and other depressing effects from home countries)?

  1. Nice site. Though, I don’t agree with the data as it is very old. In UK, Continental Europe; South Asians show little or no gap with East Asians.
    https://chrisattrill.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/gcse-results-who-are-the-people-that-do-well/

    If you look at the national GCSE scores of 2013, Indians are at par with East Asians in UK. It is well documented that flynn effect brought Indian IQ in Uk from 93 to 108 in 2013. However, if you were to look at old GCSE results from UK of 2005, Indians will be marginally below whites as in canada. And much below East Asians.

    Your data in both this link and US link is very old.
    Same is the case in Singapore where average Malay IQ is now at 106 as per TIMMS and indian have 112 IQ and have replaced chinese as richest ethnic group in Singapore. And also in Hong Kong.
    Same is the case with national GMAT or GRE scores for India which show much higher IQs than Europe at par with East Asians. Though PISA is quite low.
    National GMAT scores: USA 533 Germany: 550-560,
    India: 577, china: 581, Singapore: 605.
    The highest IQ group or region (uttar Pradesh) so not live out of india. Most of the indians outside india are sikhs or those who wear the turban, which are not the highest scoring ethnicity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *