By Peter Marten, December 2010
Girls read better than boys all over the world, and Finland does better than just about every other country – again – in the newest PISA results.
In the newest edition of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), based on results gathered in 2009, Finland again placed close to the top, although it did not maintain the number one overall status that it attained in the previous PISA.
The main focus area for the 2009 version of the triannual assessment, reading literacy, sees Finland ranked second among the 33 participating OECD countries, after Korea, and third among all 65 PISA countries, with Shanghai-China placing first.
PISA 2009 shows that Finnish 15-year-olds' reading ability has dropped a percentage point or two compared to the country's own results for 2000, the last time reading literacy formed the focus of the assessment. However, the overall level is still excellent, with only three points separating Finland's 536 from Korea's 539.
In every participating country, girls outscored boys in reading. On average, girls are more active readers and possess better reading skills. Reading was assessed based on five subscales: access and retrieve; integrate and interpret; reflect and evaluate; continuous texts; and noncontinuous texts.
The PISA organizers note that the best-performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all students, regardless of social background. In Finland, Canada, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong-China and Shanghai-China, children "tend to perform well regardless of their own background or the school they attend." This is called "equity in learning opportunities and outcomes."
Finland scored well in the secondary portions of PISA 2009 as well: mathematical literacy and science literacy. In mathematics, the Finns placed second among OECD nations and sixth among all 65 participants, while in science they scored first among OECD countries and second overall. For the Finnish data, 6,415 students, all 15 years old, participated from 203 schools.
OECD Programme for International Student Assessment website
Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: PISA 2009 results
Finnish Core Curriculum (National Board of Education)
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