Norwegian progress in the 2009 PISA study

Norwegian 15- year olds have become better at Reading, and there is also marked progress in Mathematics and Science. These are the main findings in the 2009 PISA study.

Photo: Colourbox

PISA 2009

The PISA group at the Department of Teacher Education and School Development has published the fourth set of PISA results with this 2009 study. As in previous years, Finland and South Korea score highest amongst the OECD countries, but a wider group of Asian countries also place highly. At the top of the list is the city of Shanghai, which has the best score in Reading, Science, and Mathematics.
With the exception of Finland, the Nordic countries achieve more or less the same as previous years and place very close to the average of the OECD countries. Whilst Norway may be pleased about it’s marked progress, Sweden sees a noticeable decline and is surpassed by it’s Nordic neighbours.

Pleased with progress

  • Project manager for PISA Norway, Marit Kjærnsli, is pleased with the Norwegian progress:
  • It is an important result that Norwegian pupils have improved in Reading, Mathematics, and Science compared to 2006, she says.
  • We are now back at the same level as in 2000. The question is whether this progress will continue in 2012, or if the weak results from 2006 were an exception. The pupils who completed the 2006 PISA study started in the 2nd grade and followed the L97 Curriculum throughout their schooling. The 4400 pupils who participated in PISA 2009, were born in 1993, and followed L97 in elementary school and the Knowledge Promotion Reform in lower secondary school.
  • Kjærnsli emphasises that the PISA study does not provide answers about why the Norwegian results show progress, and refers to the wider discussion among all those who are involved in Norwegian education.

Fewer at the bottom, but also at the top

In PISA 2009 Reading was as a focus-area. Researcher Astrid Roe at the Department of Teacher Education and School Research, is especially pleased that the number of (weaker) readers has decreased since 2006.

  • Weak reading skills are a problem both for pupils themselves and for society, so we should be pleased about the improvement we see, Roe says. She is, however, worried about the small number of (stronger) pupils. She points to the fact that the PISA study provides a basis for illustrating the strengths and weaknesses in reading skills of the average Norwegian pupil.
  • When we study which tasks the Norwegian pupils master better than their expected average, we see that Norwegian pupils prefer fun texts, preferably about known topics that they are interested in. If in addition, there are questions regarding information which may be found early on in the text, Norwegian pupils achieve well!

Generate new ideas

Researcher Rolf Vegar Olsen believes the strong Mathematics results in the Pacific countries may be subject to discussion, but wishes first and foremost to point to other European countries.

  • In the case of Mathematics, it would be interesting to take a closer look at the Netherlands. Norway and the Netherlands have a very similar view on what a generalist mathematics eduaction should be - emphasising Mathematics in a scientific context. The Dutch pupils have the same profile as the Norwegian ones, but are overall higher achievers than ours, says Olsen.

Alreday in April 2011, the Field trial for PISA 2012 will begin, where Mathematics will be the main area of study for the first time since 2003. The Norwegian PISA milieu participates in the process by developing new exercises in Mathematics, in both paper and electronic versions.

  • As the computer becomes increasingly important in pupils’ everyday life, it is only natural that pupils receive digital texts and exercises in digital environments. PISA 2012 will also contain digital excersises related to problem-solving, says Marit Kjærnsli
Published Dec. 9, 2010 1:02 PM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2010 1:05 PM