British Columbia’s Grade 4 students have been ranked among the top readers in the world at their level, according to a new international report.

The province’s students bested both national and international averages in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study’s 2011 report, which assessed fourth graders from 45 countries and nine Canadian provinces.

B.C. was ranked among the top seven jurisdictions, an achievement both teachers and politicians were quick to take credit for on Tuesday.

Jim Iker, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, said the province’s educators deserved the bulk of the credit for successfully campaigning for smaller elementary school class sizes and making the most of their budgetary limitations.

“They’re working as hard as they can in the classroom, despite some of the conditions that they’re facing due to underfunding, particularly for the last 11 years,” Iker said.

“If we actually had more teacher librarians in our schools and more specialists, more teacher services we think the results could probably be even higher than they are now.”

The B.C. government issued a news release on the report as well, where Education Minister Don McRae credited the success of Grade 4 students on government policy.

“For more than a decade we’ve made significant investments in early literacy programs, and as this study shows we’re seeing very positive results,” McRae said.

The minister also gave recognition to teachers for helping build students’ reading skills.

But another group that deserves to be identified and acknowledged is the parents. Maureen Dockendorf, the B.C. Superintendent of Reading, said parents who read to their children help them learn to read well themselves.

Dockendorf said it all boils down to making “good books that they’re excited about” available and taking the time to sit down and share the experience with them.

“I don’t think they’re ever too old to be read to,” Dockendorf said.

Roughly 325,000 students worldwide participated in the survey, including 23,000 from Canada.

In B.C., 2,647 from 148 students were surveyed. The study found they have higher levels of reading enjoyment and self-confidence than the national and international averages.

Additional results:

Jurisdictions that performed statistically better than B.C.:
Finland, Hong Kong, Russian Federation, Singapore

Jurisdictions that performed in the same range as B.C.:
Alberta, British Columbia, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Denmark, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, United States

Jurisdictions that performed statistically worse than B.C.:
Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Poland, Quebec, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates.

For more information, read the full report from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Ed Watson