Finland retains its top position in the PISA survey

“Although the students that enter the secondary level of the Finnish school system are the best in the world, we must acknowledge the fact that this success does not entirely carry through to the tertiary level.”

Opiskelijoita käytävällä The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating countries and administered in schools to15-year-olds. The University of Helsinki Centre for Education Assessment served as the national centre for the PISA 2006 survey.

The focus of the 2006 survey was science competencies and, based on its results, Finnish students are the best in the world in this field. In the other focus areas of the survey, literacy and mathematics, Finland came second.

“Finland is perhaps becoming accustomed to its success in the PISA survey, so the results are not afforded the recognition that they deserve," says Pekka Arinen, Project Manager from the Centre for Educational Assessment. According to Arinen, the results are too often reviewed exclusively from the perspective of the comprehensive school, although the survey really centres on the challenges of lifelong learning.

”Although the students that enter the secondary level of the Finnish school system are the best in the world, we must acknowledge the fact that this success does not entirely carry through to the tertiary level," says Arinen. “During the three years in the upper secondary school, the students receive insufficient training to be fully equipped for university studies. The system does not produce quite the type of students that universities are looking for.”

According to Arinen, Finland, where the number of potential university applicants is relatively small compared with the leading universities of the world, should find more effective measures for utilising its national resources. “We need more research based on the PISA survey, so that the competencies of our comprehensive school students can be better channelled in later stages in life. We do not currently know why exactly our results are as good as they are,” says Arinen.

Text: Simo Salmela
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
20.12.2007
www.helsinki.fi/digitalcommunications

Translation: Valtasana Oy


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