OECD PISA 2003: Young Finns among the World Top in Learning Outcome
Young Finns were among the OECD top in mathematical, science and reading literacy and in problem-solving according to the OECD PISA 2003 assessment.
The triennial PISA programme assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in the domains of reading, mathematics and science. The first review (PISA 2000) focused on reading literacy; these findings were published in 2001. The "major" domain of PISA 2003 is mathematics. Science literacy will be gauged in detail in the third PISA in 2006.
In PISA, mathematical literacy means young people's capacity to apply mathematical knowledge and skills to solving mathematical problems in different thematic areas and in different everyday situations. PISA 2003 also assessed the ability to solve problems which cross curricular boundaries.
PISA measures how well young people have mastered important knowledge and skills needed in future society, on the changing labour market and in quality adult life, rather than learning attainment in terms of the school curriculum.
Young Finns best in mathematical literacy in the OECD
Young Finns are the best in mathematical literacy in the OECD. The same level of mathematical competencies were found in Korea, the Netherlands and Japan, and the non-OECD participating area Hong Kong (China). In terms of average attainment, mathematical literacy has improved in Finland from the earlier PISA.
Young Finns reached a high level in all the measured aspects of mathematical skills, but their best area was quantitative reasoning. Young Finns' interest in mathematics was below the OECD average. Finland still has many challenges in instilling attitudes conducive to learning and developing learning strategies.
The overriding characteristic of young Finns' learning outcome is that is its very even, the proportion of low-achievers is small in Finland compared to other OECD countries. In Finland, gender differences in mathematical literacy are fairly small.
Students' socio-economic background is reflected in mathematical literacy. In all the participating countries, children from higher socio-economic families did better in mathematical tests than their less advantaged mates. In Finland, however, the socio-economic disparities in mathematical literacy were clearly smaller than in other OECD countries. Similarly, the differences between schools in mathematical literacy were smallest in Finland, which topped the list with Iceland. Regional disparities are also small in Finland. The learning outcomes in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland are among the best, but slightly below the average performance in Finland in all four assessment areas.
Young Finns' reading literacy still the best in the OECD countries
Young Finns are still better at reading than young people in other high-literacy OECD countries, such as Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Finland's lead over Korea was, however, negligible. Girls read better than boys in all the participating countries. In Finland reading literacy is even more uniform than before; gender disparities have decreased from the previous PISA survey. The average in Finnish boys' reading literacy is clearly lower (521 points) than that of girls (565) but still the highest in the OECD.
Young Finns' science literacy excellent and problem-solving among the best in the OECD
In sciences, Finland was also the best, before the two other top OECD countries, Japan and Korea. Science literacy has improved from the previous PISA results. Finns' science competencies are characterised by a high level and an even distribution compared with the other participating countries.
A new assessment area in PISA 2003 was problem-solving. Young Finns' problem-solving skills were among the best. A very positive finding was that Finland had the lowest relative number of low-achievers (5%) who do not master problem-solving skills.
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In Finland the PISA 2003 sample comprised 147 Finnish-language schools and 50 Swedish-language schools. The population was 6,235 students, of whom 5,796 (93%) answered the test questions. Of these 4,589 were Finnish-speakers and 1,207 Swedish-speakers. In Finland PISA 2003 was conducted by the Institute for Educational Research (University of Jyväskylä).
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Nuoret osaajat. PISA 2003 (pdf) can be accessed on the site of the Institute for Educational Research from 11 a.m. on Mon 6 December at (user name: pisa; pass word: lumisade2004)
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For more information:
- Director Eeva-Riitta Pirhonen (Ministry of Education), tel. (09) 160 77268, 040 576 9462
- Mr Jari Rajanen, Counsellor of Education (Ministry of Education), tel. (09) 160 77463, 040 742 1127
- Professor Jouni Välijärvi (Institute for Educational Research), tel. 050 567 7210
- Mr Pekka Kupari, Senior Researcher (Inst. for Educational Research), tel. 050 382 5365
- Professor Pirjo Linnakylä (Institute for Educational Research), tel. 050 591 9511
The PISA 2003 findings can accessed in their entirety on the OECD site at www.pisa.oecd.org
The results of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) will be published on Tuesday 7 December 2004 at 01.01 EET
Minister of Education and Science Tuula Haatainen will hold a press conference about the results of the PISA review as concerns Finnish students on Tuesday 7 December, 10-11 a.m., Auditorium D460, Ministry of Education, Meritullinkatu 1, Helsinki