Etusivu Tiedotteet Suomi jälleen PISA-tutkimuksen kärkeä

Finnish students high performers in PISA


Young Finns were again among the best performers in the assessment of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in PISA 2009.

In the main focus area, reading literacy, the mean performance of Finnish students was ranked third, after Korea and the non-OECD participant Shanghai. In mathematical literacy, the performance of young Finns was second best among the OECD countries and sixth among all participating countries and economies. Finland was outperformed by Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. In scientific literacy, Finland came second after Shanghai.

A slight fall, but still among OECD top

The score points attained by Finland in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that young Finns are still among the top readers in the OECD. Compared to the 2000 PISA results, when reading literacy was the main focus for the first time, the mean point score has declined to some extent. The proportion of weak readers has risen from 7% to 8% and the proportion of excellent readers fallen from 18% to 15%. However, there are still clearly more excellent readers in Finland than in the OECD countries on average.

Variation in different aspects of reading

As regards different aspects of reading, the proficiency of Finnish students has declined in information access and retrieval and in integration and interpretation of content. On the other hand, on the subscale of reflect and evaluate, their performance has remained nearly the same as in 2000.

Girls have a huge lead over boys in reading

In PISA 2009 girls were better readers than boys in all the participating countries and economies. In Finland, the gap between girls and boys was the largest in the OECD. There were clearly more boys than girls among poor readers, and correspondingly more girls than boys among excellent readers. Girls were also noticeably more active readers overall.

Interest in reading and mastery of strategies crucial

Good reading literacy has to do with attitudes to reading, mastery of reading strategies and diversity in reading. These factors go towards explaining the variation in reading proficiency in Finland to a larger extent than in the OECD countries on average. On the other hand, students' economic, cultural and social backgrounds were not as important explanatory factors as in the OECD on average.

Variation between schools still minimal

Differences between Finnish schools are still fairly small, being only 8% of total variance in reading literacy and the smallest variance in PISA 2009, even though it had grown from 2000, when it was 5%.

Mathematical literacy the same, scientific literacy falling slightly

Finnish students’ performance in mathematical literacy is still excellent and quite uniform. It has remained at the same level from 2003, when it was the main focus in PISA. The percentage of low-performers in mathematics was the smallest in Finland among all the OECD countries. On the other hand, scientific literacy has declined to some extent from 2006, when it was the main focus. Despite the slight fall, Finnish students' proficiency in scientific literacy was still among OECD top.

PISA expanding: 65 participant countries/economies in 2009

PISA gauges the learning outcome of students aged 15 in mathematical, scientific and reading literacy. It assesses to what extent students have acquired knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society and the variation in these skills over time. The review is conducted every three years in the domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. In the first PISA in 2000 there were 32 participating countries /economies and in 2009 already 65.

Having reading literacy as its main focus like PISA 2000, PISA 2009 marks the start of a new round. In PISA reading literacy means "understanding, using, and reflecting on written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society".

The foremost aim in PISA is not to assess the attainment of aims recorded in curricula or the command of learning contents as such, but students' knowledge and competencies in contexts as close to real-life situations as possible.

In Finland PISA 2009 comprised 203 schools, The sample was 6,415 students, of whom 91% completed the assignment. In Finland PISA 2009 was conducted by the Institute for Educational Research (University of Jyväskylä).

For more information:
Ministry of Education and Culture:
Director Eeva-Riitta Pirhonen, tel. +358 (0)9 160 77268
Counsellor for Education Jari Rajanen, 358 (0)9 160 77463
Senior Advisor Tommi Karjalainen, tel. +358 (0)9 160 77325

Finnish Institute for Educational Research (University Of Jyväskylä)
Professor Jouni Välijärvi, National PISA Coordinator, tel. +358 (0)50 567 7210,
Senior researcher Sari Sulkunen, PISA reading literacy assessment, tel. +358 (0)40 762 9559,

PISA 2009 -tutkimuksen ensituloksia publication (in Finnish) and other related material at the Ministry's site

Etusivu Tiedotteet Suomi jälleen PISA-tutkimuksen kärkeä