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Finland Slips in PISA Ranking

The OECD's 2009 PISA survey of knowledge and skills, released on Tuesday, shows weakened results for Finland. However Finnish 15-year-olds remain consistent top performers on the test. This time Finnish ninth graders ranked third in reading comprehension -- the main focus of the assessment -- behind Shanghai and South Korea.

Image: YLE

In maths, Finland only ranked sixth on the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. Finnish pupils performed better in science, coming in second after Shanghai. The huge city -- taking part in the survey for the first time -- came top in all three of the disciplines: maths, science and literacy.

Finland fared better in previous years. In 2000 and 2003, Finnish pupils topped the ranking for reading comprehension, making the country’s educational system the envy of educators around the world.

Experts say the expansion of countries included in the test weakened Finland’s standing. The latest assessment covered 65 countries, whereas the first one administered in 2000 only invited 32 states to participate. Poorer reading comprehension skills also pulled down results. In 2009, the portion of Finnish pupils recorded as having excellent reading literacy skills dropped to 15 percent from 18 in 2000.

Girls read better than boys in every country, by an average of 39 points, the equivalent to one year of schooling.

Some 6,000 Finnish pupils sat for the latest PISA exam at 200 randomly selected schools. The triennial survey of the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds measures how kids at the end of compulsory education can meet real life challenges.