Educational attainment of person
Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on May 26, 2021.
Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education that a person has successfully completed. Successful completion of a level of education refers to the achievement of the learning objectives of that level, typically validated through the assessment of acquired knowledge, skills and competencies.
At the primary and high school level, educational attainment refers to the highest grade completed or whether or not the person has obtained a high school (secondary school) diploma or equivalency certificate. At the postsecondary level, it refers to postsecondary certificates, diplomas or degrees awarded by accredited educational institutions. It also includes educational certificates or diplomas awarded to the person by provincial/territorial or federal authorities, such as a Journeyperson's designation in the trades. Educational attainment can also include the partial completion of a postsecondary qualification.
Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programs.
Educational attainment is usually measured with respect to the highest education program successfully completed, which is typically certified by a recognized qualification.
At the primary and high school levels, educational attainment can be used to present data in terms of the highest grade category completed in the Classification of highest educational attainment.
At the postsecondary level, it can be used to measure partially completed qualifications in the category 'Some postsecondary education (highest)' in the Classification of highest educational attainment, which includes persons who have received some education that can be counted towards a postsecondary qualification but have not received any postsecondary qualification. The Classification of highest certificate, diploma or degree refers only to the highest education program successfully completed. As a result, categories of the two classifications below the level of completed postsecondary qualifications are not directly comparable.
Information on educational attainment is typically presented for persons aged 15 years and over.
Educational attainment can be collected or derived from any of the following:
(1) a single question referring specifically to the highest certificate, diploma or degree obtained by the person;
(2) a single question which asks for all certificates, diplomas or degrees the person has obtained;
(3) responses to a set of questions, each of which ask whether the person has obtained a specific certificate, diploma or degree.
Information on the highest partially completed qualification, if included, can be derived by combining information on the highest certificate, diploma or degree obtained with one or more questions on whether the person has completed some education at a given level.
Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards
This standard is consistent with the definition of educational attainment provided in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (2012, p. 20, paragraph 81):
"The educational attainment of an individual is defined as the highest ISCED level completed by the individual. For operational purposes, educational attainment is usually measured with respect to the highest education programme successfully completed, which is typically certified by a recognised qualification."
ISCED classifies educational programs and includes a classification of the levels of educational attainment. This standard does not use ISCED levels but, rather, classifications that reflect the language used to describe education levels in Canada.
This standard is also consistent with ISCED 2011 in its definition of 'successful' completion, and in its inclusion of certificates awarded by provincial or federal authorities that recognize the skills gained by means of informal learning as equivalent to formal educational qualifications.
This standard is consistent with the definition of educational attainment found in the United Nations' "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses", Revision 3, 2017. The UN document defines educational attainment as "the highest ISCED level successfully completed by an individual".
- Classification of highest certificate, diploma or degree May 26, 2021 to current
- Classification of highest educational attainment May 26, 2021 to current
- Classification of highest educational attainment - variant for alternate reporting May 26, 2021 to current
- Classification of Highest Educational Attainment, Extension and Regrouping Variant, with No Education December 19, 2016 to current
Relation to previous version
- Educational attainment of person May 26, 2021 to current
The wording of the definition of educational attainment has been slightly modified in English, but the meaning is unchanged. Some of the category names and definitions in each of the classifications have been modified, but the meaning is unchanged. The structure of the Classification of highest certificate, diploma or degree has been slightly modified by adding the aggregate category 'Postsecondary certificate or diploma below bachelor level', which contains trades and college certificates and diplomas, as well as university certificates and diplomas below the bachelor level.
- Educational attainment of person April 07, 2016 to May 25, 2021
This variable replaces the previous standard for Educational attainment. The definition and usage sections now clarify that:
(1) Educational attainment can be measured in terms of either the highest education program that a person has successfully completed or the highest education program that a person has partially completed. The conditions for successful completion are described.
(2) Educational certificates or diplomas awarded to the person by provincial or federal authorities, such as the journeyperson designation in the trades are included.
The standard also now includes a section on Derivation that describes how the variable may be derived. In addition, the standard also includes the "Highest certificate, diploma or degree" classification as a means of measuring educational attainment. This classification had been included in the previous standard for Certificate, diploma or degree (now Educational qualifications).
Revisions to the definition and usage, and the inclusion of the "Highest certificate, diploma or degree" classification in this standard reflect the new definition of Educational Attainment made by the International Standard Classification of Education and incorporated into ISCED 2011.
- Educational attainment of person June 20, 2011 to April 06, 2016
This variable replaces the current standard for Education attainment. The classification differs from the earlier standard in providing definitions as well as more detailed levels for postsecondary non-university certificates and diplomas obtained. A class that recognises the completion of some postsecondary education without having received a postsecondary certificate diploma or degree is also included. Finally, the class definitions at the secondary school and primary school levels provide equivalencies in the Quebec education system.
- Educational attainment July 15, 1998 to June 19, 2011