Canadian students scored above the international mean of 500 in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2000. But while urban students scored an average of 538 those in rural area scored only 523.
Reasons usually given for urban students outperforming their rural peers - such as access to better books and equipment and family background - fail to explain the gap, says a new study by Statistics Canada, Understanding the Rural-Urban Reading Gap.
Fernando Cartwright, co-author of the study, said school principals in cities and the country reported similar material resources. And the highest teacher morale was actually found in rural schools. Nor did the data his team collected provide evidence for the expected link between family education and economic backgrounds, and children's reading skills.