PISA and Global Education Policy

Understanding Finland’s Success and Influence


PISA and Global Education Policy: Understanding Finland's Success and Influence provides an in-depth investigation for the reasons behind Finland’s success in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Finland’s high performances in every administration of PISA since 2000 have captured worldwide attention. This volume offers a comprehensive exploration into the context of Finland, uncovering its historical, cultural, political, and societal nuances. Furthermore, it delves into the history of Finnish education, providing a strong foundation from which to view the system that produced so much success in PISA. The book analyses empirical data from Finnish professors of education, ministers of education, head teachers, and teachers for the reasons behind Finland’s consistently high outcomes in the survey. It includes viewpoints from OECD officers with direct responsibility for PISA. In addition, it uncovers the impact of Finnish influence on education policy worldwide. Thus, the text presents an analysis of the growing politicisation of international achievement studies such as PISA. The increasingly globalised educational context surrounding PISA calls for an analysis of policy transfer and the already-apparent uncritical policy borrowing of Finnish education policy within the UK context.

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Biographical Note

Jennifer Chung, DPhil (2009), University of Oxford, is a Senior Lecturer of Education and Social Sciences at St Mary’s University. Her research interests involve Nordic education, and Finland in particular. She is currently researching teacher education in Finland and the potential of policy export.

Table of contents

Michael Crossley


1 The Global Context of Education Policy-Making
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary

2 The Backdrop for Success: Finland’s Context and Configuration
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary

3 The Education System of Finland
 1 Introduction
 2 The Current Education System of Finland
 3 Education Provision for Minority Groups
 4 Teacher Education in Finland
 5 Summary

4 The Programme for International Student Assessment: The Birth of an Achievement Study that Captured Worldwide Attention
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary

5 Issues of Policy Transfer
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary

6 Strengths of Finnish Education
 1 Introduction
 2 Teachers
 3 Equality
 4 High Value of Education
 5 Structure, Organisation, and Characteristics of Finnish Schools
 6 Summary

7 Weaknesses of Finnish Education
 1 Introduction
 2 The Downsides of Mixed Ability Teaching
 3 Decreasing Importance of Education
 4 Lack of Enjoyment in School
 5 Budget Cuts
 6 Structural Weaknesses
 7 Summary

8 Finnish Responses to PISA
 1 Introduction
 2 Positive Responses to PISA
 3 Negative Responses to PISA
 4 Additional Responses to PISA
 5 Summary

9 Cross-National Attraction and Education Policy Transfer
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary

10 The Temptation of Uncritical International Transfer: The Politics of Finland’s Success in PISA
 1 Introduction
 2 Summary
 3 Conclusion


Appendix: List of Participants


This book appeals to all interested in PISA and the ‘Finland Phenomenon’, along with those interested in international assessments, education policy, and the globalisation of education.

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