B2 Book section
Reading literacy work in Finland : a response to declining PISA results (2022)

Sulkunen, S. (2022). Reading literacy work in Finland : a response to declining PISA results. In M. Jörgens, J. Sander, & S. Werner (Eds.), Leseförderung in der Ganztagsschule (pp. 128-148). Verlagsgruppe Beltz.

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsSulkunen, Sari

Parent publicationLeseförderung in der Ganztagsschule

Parent publication editorsJörgens, Moritz; Sander, Julia; Werner, Sybille



Publication year2022

Pages range128-148

Number of pages in the book253

PublisherVerlagsgruppe Beltz

Place of PublicationWeinheim

Publication countryGermany

Publication languageEnglish

Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access


Finland has been considered one of the top countries in education since the first PISA assessment in 2000. Finnish 15-year-old students have consistently shown high average performance in all core assessment areas of PISA, i.e. reading literacy, mathematics and science (OECD, 2001, 2004, 2010a, 2013a, 2019a). Additionally, Finnish students’ performance has been characterized with relatively high level of equity since the percentage of variance in students’ performance explained by economic, social and cultural status has been statistically significantly below the OECD average (OECD, 2010b, 27; OECD 2019b, 56). According to the OECD, this places Finland among the most successful school systems (ibid.). However, the most recent PISA assessments have indicated a decreasing trend for Finland. PISA 2009 results showed a decline in reading literacy and science scores. The results from 2012 confirmed the trend and revealed a similar development in mathematics. The results from PISA 2018 confirmed the descending trend in all assessment areas (OECD, 2019b). In this chapter, I review the trends of the key findings in Finnish PISA results. The focus is on reading literacy that has already been the main area of assessment three times, in 2000, 2009 and 2018. This enables a reliable and valid comparison of performance in three time points with a nearly twenty-year interval. In some cases, I will present results from 2012 and 2015 if necessary to describe the changes in PISA results in more detail. Additionally, I describe the key educational developments implemented in Finland as a means to maintain high level of achievement in reading literacy. The focus is on basic education as adolescents are assessed in PISA at the end of the basic education.

Keywordsliteracyevaluationlearning resultsProgramme for International Student Assessmentinternational comparisonOECD countrieseducation policy

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

Last updated on 2024-14-06 at 23:46