Excellent Education PISA Results for Finland

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a three year survey of 15-year-old students around the world that assesses the extent to which they have acquired the key knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society. The assessment focuses on reading, mathematics and science and students’ proficiency in the innovative domain 

Students in Finland scored higher than the OECD average in reading (520 score points), mathematics (507) and science (522). 

Although the results were excellent in relative terms the performance has not shown any improvement over the past years. This is probably caused by budget cutbacks and by attempts to implement quick fixes without careful planning by past governments.

The detailed results are as follows:

  1. In reading, the Chinese outperformed Finland, while Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Korea scored around the same level as Finland. 
  2. In mathematics, 11 countries/economies outperformed Finland, while Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom scored around the same level as Finland. 
  3. In science, the Chinese, Estonia, Japan, and Singapore outperformed Finland, while Canada, and Korea scored around the same level as Finland. 

Mean reading, mathematics and science performance continued to decline in Finland. In all three subjects, the decline began after 2006. 

Although PISA 2018 results were significantly lower than PISA 2015 results only in science, the negative trend line shows no sign of a reversal of performance in any subject. 

In mathematics, declines were similarly rapid at all levels of the performance distribution; in reading and science, in contrast, the declining trend was particularly noticeable amongst the lowest-achieving students. 

The gender gap in reading in Finland (52 score points) was one of the widest across all PISA 2018-participating countries/economies. The gap was similar to that observed in 2009 (55 score points), as both girls’ and boys’ performance declined over the period. 

In Finland, the gap in performance related to students’ socio-economic status (79 score points) is smaller than the average difference between advantaged and disadvantaged students (89 score points) across OECD countries. However, in Finland, this gap widened since PISA 2009 (61 score points) while it remained the same on average across OECD countries. 

Some 67% of students in Finland hold a growth mindset – they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “Your intelligence is something about you that you can’t change very much” (OECD average: 63%). 

Boys were less likely than girls, and disadvantaged students (60%) were less likely than advantaged students (76%) to hold a growth mindset. This latter gap (16 percentage points) is wider than the average across OECD countries (12 percentage points).

Graph: OECD

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