Since the release of the first results of PISA 2000, Finnish students’ good performance has generated much interest toward the Finnish education system, and a number of hypothetical explanations for this success. The latter have ranged from the phonetic character of the Finnish language to reading as a common pastime across the social stratum, and from free school meals to research-based teacher education. Lately, the affinity of the objectives of the Finnish basic school reform of the 1970s with those of PISA a quarter of a century later has been brought up as playing a salient role in Finnish students’ success in PISA.
The good and socially even performance of Finnish students in PISA 2006 has been presented more fully in English in the national report PISA06 FINLAND Analyses Reflections Explanations. In this section, some elements of the report are presented to provide an overview of Finnish students’ success in PISA. Also some key characteristics of the Finnish education system and its history will be presented as providing the background of the success.
Finnish students’ performance in PISA 2000 and 2003 have been analysed and reported in full only in Finnish in the respective national reports (Välijärvi & Linnakylä 2002, Kupari & Välijärvi 2005) but a foreshortened English version of the report on PISA 2000, The Finnish Success in PISA – and Some Reasons Behind It and two doctoral dissertations based on PISA 2000 data are available in PDF format on the University of Jyväskylä, Institute of Educational Research Internet site. A short overview of the key results of PISA 2000 and PISA 2003 will be provided in <Results> together with a more detailed analyses of the results of PISA 2006.