Finland has slipped down the Pisa rankings in recent years, and that trend continued in the latest set of the OECD educational charts released on Tuesday. Although Finland was the only country where girls outperformed boys in science, the number of poor performing students was up and there were fewer high-achievers.
Finland's teaching union, the OAJ, says it is concerned about the development in Finnish Pisa results.
"Finnish results have declined clearly when compared to previous years," said OAJ expert Jaakko Salo. "The biggest concern in this is that our cornerstone—equality in education—looks to be crumbling."
More low achievers
The number of poorly-performing students has increased, while the number of high achievers has declined.
"Especially the number of low achievers has grown really quickly," said Salo. "For example in sciences it has tripled. Just like the number of pupils missing the basic minimum targets—those that don't go on to further education or acquire essential skills for working life—has tripled."
Salo says that the decline is partly because schools are now unable to offer the same support they have in the past. When classroom support is removed, the students with highly educated parents tend to manage okay, but children without so much support at home can see their grades suffer.
The OAJ is also concerned about regional differences.
"In the past we haven't really seen regional differences at all, but now the differences are significant," said Salo. "In the capital city region kids succeed noticeably better than elsewhere, and in fact are competitive with the top Pisa countries like Singapore, if compared as a distinct area."
Salo is also concerned about the resources devoted to basic schooling in Finland, saying that funding has declined in recent years.
"It's not enough, when talking about the development of basic education, however many projects you start about literacy or boys schooling," said Salo. "It's that the funding for basic education in Finland has collapsed."