Literacy Data

The following report on local literacy data was created in conjunction with the University of Victoria (2021).

Southern Vancouver Island Literacy Profiles

1. Literacy Types

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is the ability to define, access, manage, integrate, communicate, evaluate and create information safely and appropriately through digital technologies and networked devices for participation in economic and social life.

Traditional Literacy

Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, develop their knowledge and potential, and participate fully in their community and wider society.

Media Literacy

Media literacy is seen in our ability to develop an understanding of the functions of media and other information providers, as well as to critically evaluate their content and make informed decisions as users and producers of content.

2. Who is at Risk?

In Canada, some groups that are likely to experience literacy challenges include:

  • Canadians with fewer years of schooling
  • Immigrants
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Older Canadians

Immigrants are the most at risk of low literacy proficiency scores if they arrive in Canada at an older age, do not speak an official language in Canada and have low levels of education

(PIAAC 2012, Immigrants in Canada)

In Canada, Indigenous peoples score lower on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology rich environments compared to the non-Indigenous population. The health and social outcomes of these results should be interpreted in the context of ongoing social, cultural and economic marginalization, including the implications of colonization.

(PIAAC 2012, Executive Summary)

3. The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

  • PIAAC is a survey of adults aged 16-65 that assesses skills in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.
  • 4% of Canadians score below level 1 and can only interpret brief written texts on familiar topics to locate a single piece of information.
  • 13% of Canadians score at level 1 and can locate single pieces of information in short written texts in the absence of distracting information.

4.1 Indigenous Children and Youth

  • Indigenous students are students that self-identify as being of Indigenous ancestry (First Nations: Status or non-status, Métis and Inuit).
  • There are 3,941 students from kindergarten to grade 12 who identified as Indigenous in the 2019-2020 school year for School Districts 61 (Greater Victoria ,62 (Sooke), 63 (Saanich) and 64 (The Gulf Islands).

High school Completion Rates of Indigenous Students and Non-Indigenous Students over time in the Greater Victoria School District (61)

  • Only 65-76% of Indigenous students in BC graduate from high school compared to 76%-86% for non-indigenous students
  • From 2005-2019, indigenous students had low rates of completion from the Greater Victoria School District (33%-65%)

4.2 Newcomers and English as an Additional Language 1

  • The age of arrival to Canada is important for literacy proficiency. There is a link between younger age of arrival to Canada and higher literacy proficiency. Children that arrive to Canada before age 6 have higher proficiency scores than those that arrive between ages 6-12. Children who arrive after age 12 have the lowest proficiency scores.
  • Children who are recent immigrants or speak a minority language at home have more difficulty with understanding written text but are better at spelling and decoding words.
  • For recent immigrants to British Columbia who do not speak English as a first or additional language, lower proficiency with the English language overall can lead to challenges with reading and writing, specifically. These literacy challenges faced by some newcomers may be even more pronounced than for those who speak English with fluency and accuracy.”
  • Children who arrive in a new country at an older age (12+) will have more difficulty with reading proficiency than children who arrive earlier
  • The 2016 Canadian census indicates the number of people living in Victoria who reported a first language other than English or French. Indigenous languages in Canada are reported on a separate document.
  • The bar graph on the left shows the languages with the greatest number of speakers living in the Victoria Metropolitan Area in 2016. Please note that there are many more languages with fewer speakers than shown here
  • Altogether, 51,905 people in Victoria reported a language other than English as their first language in 2016. That is, 14.3% of the population.

4.3 Children and Youth with Learning Differences

  • Children with learning differences are more likely than children without learning differences to have low levels of literacy
  • There are 5,299 K-12 students with “special needs” in School Districts 61, 62, 63, and 64 in the 2019/2020 school year
  • The term “special needs” as it is used by school districts can include a range of strengths and weaknesses and does not necessarily point to low literacy skills.
  • However, learning differences frequently co-occur with other types of special needs.

4.4 Families with Children

  • The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a survey of 15-year old students which assesses key knowledge and skills such as reading, math and knowledge in relation to overall well-being
  • In Canada, students who belong to families with higher socio-economic status outperform students who belong to families with lower socio-economic status by an average 68 points on reading assessments (PISA, 2018)
  • 24% of students from high socio-economic households and 7% of students from low socio-economic households were top performers in reading
  • However, lower performance in reading is not an absolute outcome for students who live in low socio-economic households. 14% of students living in low socio-economic households scored in the top quarter of reading performance within Canada.

4.5 Southern Vancouver Island Literacy Programs and Services for Children and Youth

AgesSAANICH PENINSULAVICTORIA AND SAANICH
0-5Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Productions Society
Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Productions Society
Westshore Literacy
6-12Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Productions Society
ArtsREACH
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Productions Society
ArtsREACH
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
Westshore Literacy
13+Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria
School of Access: Camosun College
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria
School of Access: Camosun College
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
AgesWESTSHORE AND SOOKEGULF ISLANDS
0-5Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Production Society
Westshore Literacy
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Theater Production Society
Salt Spring Literacy
6-12Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Story Theater Production Society
ArtsREACH
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
Westshore Literacy
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Theater Production Society
Salt Spring Literacy
13+Greater Victoria Regional Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Studio
Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria
School of Access: Camosun College
Victoria Literacy Connection
LDABC The Learning Curve
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Salt Spring Literacy

5.1 Indigenous Adult Learners

Disclaimer: The data presented here does not accurately represent the Indigenous populations of Canada. The Indigenous populations who participated in PIAAC were: First Nations peoples living off-reserve (48%), Métis (44%), and Inuit (5%) but did not include Indigenous peoples living on-reserve (38% of Canada’s Indigenous population). Post-secondary non-tertiary refers to graduates of apprenticeship, trade and vocational training programs that lasted under 2 years. College Diploma or degree refers to college diplomas of over 2 years and university certificates below bachelor level

http://www.cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/362/PIAAC_PSE_CMEC_2016_EN.pdf

  • The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a global assessment for adult skills in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.
  • Literacy skill levels of Indigenous populations are lower than non-Indigenous populations in Canada.
  • Indigenous Canadians with all types of post-secondary education perform the same as Non-Indigenous Canadians with the same levels of education. The literacy gap disappears with higher levels of education.

5.2 Adult Newcomers and ELL: Literacy Proficiency

Recent Immigrants are defined by arrival to Canada between 2002-2012., established Immigrants are defined by arrival to Canada before 2002, and Canadian-born refers to people born in Canada.

http://www.piaac.ca/docs/PIAAC%202012%20Immigrants%20Canada%20Final%20EN.pdf

  • The Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) surveyed people aged 16-65 on reading, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.
  • On average, recent immigrants and established immigrants aged 16-65 show lower literacy proficiency scores than people born in Canada
  • Recent immigrants and established immigrants had similar scores which suggests that the time spent in Canada may not have a large effect on literacy proficiency

5.3 Adults with Learning Differences

  • Over half of adults who recently attended school with learning differences (age 15+) required some kind of educational aid or service
  • Adults with learning differences were more likely to report that they needed extended test time and teacher’s aides or tutors, which were predominantly met.
  • Technology-based supports were less likely to be needed but adults who did report needing them were less likely to receive them.

*Note: This survey only targeted adults aged 15-65 who were not currently attending school and “post-secondary education” does not include trades certificates, college degrees or university certificates below bachelor level.

  • In Canada, adults with learning differences are more likely to have overall lower rates of completing education (Stats Canada, Canadian Survey on Disabilities, 2012)
  • 33% of adults with learning differences aged 15-65 reported not completing high school compared to 13.1% of adults without learning differences
  • 35.6% of adults with learning differences reported completing post-secondary qualifications compared to 61.1% of adults without learning differences.

5.4 Adults with Fewer Years of Education

This data points towards low levels of literacy proficiency for adults in Victoria who have not completed high school. However, this data should be interpreted with caution because reasons for not graduating high school vary and are not listed.

https://studentsuccess.gov.bc.ca/school-district/061/report/completion-rates

  • Fewer years of education is a known risk factor for low levels of literacy proficiency
  • In the Greater Victoria School District (61), 16% of all students did not graduate from high school in the 2018/2019 school year.
  • Out of 128 Indigenous students, only 40% graduated high school and out of 202 special needs students only 66% graduated high school in 2018/2019.

5.5 Southern Vancouver Island Literacy Programs and Services for Adults aged 25-64

VICTORIA, SAANICH, WESTSHORE & SOOKEGULF ISLANDS
Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria
School of Access: Camosun College
Victoria Literacy Connection
Greater Victoria Public Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
LDABC The Learning Curve
Continuing Education Programs
Salt Spring Literacy
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Story Theater Productions Society

6.1 Indigenous Older Adult Learners (65+)

  • Between 40 and 50% of Indigenous people age 65 to 74 have no certificate, diploma, or degree (Stats Canada, Aboriginal Peoples Survey, 2012)
  • 60% of Indigenous people 75 years and older do not have a certificate, diploma, or degree
  • This is linked to the fact that 23% of Indigenous seniors have low income and have food insecurity
  • The Camosun Indigenous Advisor has worked with someone as old as 78 but most adults they work with are young adults
  • The Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) has some programs such as a storytelling circle and the Aboriginal Speech Language Program (which supports pre-literacy skills development). The Bruce Parisian library has a mandate to support literacy programs but they weren’t able to give any data.

The nations and the school districts they are part of:

  • Songhees (SD 61)
  • Esquimalt (SD 61)
  • Tsawout (SD 63)
  • Tseycum (SD 63)
  • Pauquachin (SD 63)
  • Tsartlip (SD 63)
  • Scia’new (SD 62)
  • T’souke (SD 62)
  • Pacheedaht (SD 62)
  • Malahat (they are in our catchment zone as a nation, but they don’t sit in the school districts I primarily work with)

6.2 Newcomers and English Language Learners (65+)

  • The 2016 Census reveals that there were 5,280 immigrants over the age of 45 in Victoria in 2018
  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada is one of the English language programs to help adult immigrants learn English. Most of their learners are between 35-55 years old but they have some as old as 80.
  • Another service organization is Anglican Diocese of British Columbia. They deal with private refugees, while ICA – which puts on the LINC courses – deals with government sponsored ones. 50% of the refugees they deal with are aged 50+. Close to 60% of them need literacy training, even in their own languages, but some of them come with PhDs.

6.3 Older adults with Learning Differences

  • 47% of older seniors (those aged 75+) had disabilities and 32% of younger seniors (those 65 to 74 years) had disabilities
  • This report, in addition to other Canadian Surveys on Disability, reveals that many disabilities co-occur with other types of disabilities. 35.1% of seniors 65 to 74 had 4 or more disabilities compared to 44.2% of their older counterpart.
  • Co-occurance of learning disabilities with others is not made clear in this version of the Survey on Disability but the 2012 version shows that physical disabilities are the most likely (96.1% in 65 and older) to co-occur in seniors.

6.4 Older adult with Low Digital Literacy Skills

  • These are some of the activities requiring digital skills that older adults, over the age of 65, took part in during a study period of 2018-2019.
  • The most common digital activities of seniors did was used word processing software (43.7%), followed by copied or moved files or folders digitally (41.2%), and used your smartphone as a GPS device (33.8%).
  • In total, 71% of seniors used the internet in 2018.

6.5 Victoria, Saanich, Saanich Peninsula, Westshore, Sooke and Gulf Islands Literacy Programs and Services for Older Adults aged 65+

VICTORIA, SAANICH, SAANICH PENINSULA, WESTSHORE, SOOKE & GULF ISLANDS
Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria
Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada
Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society

School of Access: Camosun College
Victoria Literacy Connection
Silver Threads
Seniors Serving Seniors
Greater Victoria Public Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
Salt Spring Literacy
Collaborative Online Resources & Education: Healthy Aging CORE
Adult Education Programs at School Districts 61, 62, 63 and 64