OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results for 2012 were published on December 3, 2013. Finnish students remain one of the best performers among the OECD countries, although the results have declined from previous years.
This year the study focused especially on mathematics. Average mathematical literacy among Finnish school students ranked in twelfth place among the 65 participating countries in the PISA 2012 assessment. In 2003, when mathematics was previously the focus of study, Finland came in second place.
Despite the downturn, Finnish students remain one of the best performers among the OECD countries. Finland came in sixth place among the OECD countries in mathematics, third in literacy and second in science. Finland remains the best in literacy and science among the European countries.
While Finland's Pisa results are still excellent, there is always room for improvement. The decline in results has already been taken into consideration and Minister of Education and Science, Krista Kiuru, is looking into ways to further develop Finnish education.
Finland’s average score in reading literacy ranked in sixth place among all participating countries and economies and in third place among all OECD countries. Only five Asian countries and economies outperformed Finland: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Korea. Relative to previous surveys where the focus was on reading literacy (2000 and 2009), Finland’s average score has decreased.
Finland’s proficiency in scientific literacy ranked in fifth place among all participating countries and economies. Finland’s position was among the best in the OECD countries along with Japan, Estonia and Korea.
In Finland, gender differences in mathematical literacy are minimal. This is the first time girls outperformed boys.
Differences in mathematical literacy between schools are still only minor, and the spread in performance across different parts of the country is very even in all three assessment categories. However, this is the first time in Finland that there was a group of schools where the results fell below the OECD average. Compared with 2003, when the focus of the assessment was on mathematics, the variation between schools rose by about 2 percentage points. The effect of socio-economic factors among students also rose slightly.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment assesses the learning outcomes in literacy, mathematics and science performance of 15-year-old students every three years. The focus in the assessment rotates every study year. In 2003 and 2012 the focus was on mathematics. This is the first time it is possible to assess developments in proficiency in mathematics in a reliable way.
In Finland, the sample for the PISA 2012 assessment was collected from 311 schools and 10,157 students were randomly selected from these schools for the survey. Altogether 90% of the sample students took part in the Pisa assessment. The survey was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research of the University of Jyväskylä.