Mandatory Finnish Content
December 11, 2012, 11:36 AM
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In PISA exams, Finland usually is the top scoring white country. Although I have a large number of brilliant Finnish readers, I had expressed some skepticism: maybe Finns just try real hard on PISA and won`t do as well on the other main international tests?

So, how did Finland do in the 2011 TIMSS and PIRLS tests among white countries/regions?


Math 4th Grade: 3rd place, behind Northern Ireland and Flemish Belgium

Math 8th Grade: 3rd place, behind Russia and Israel

Science 4th Grade: 1st place

Science 8th Grade: 1st place


Reading 4th Grade, Overall Reading Average Scale Score: 2nd place, behind Russia

Reading 4th Grade, Reading Literacy: NA

Don`t ask me what the difference is between the two Reading tables.

So, Finland does quite well on these tests, too, even though there isn`t otherwise much correlation within racial groups between the 2009 PISA and the 2011 TIMSS/PIRLS. On both sets of tests, northeast Asian countries did extremely well on math/science and quite well on reading, rich white countries came in the middle, followed by poor white countries, and then the Third World. But, within, say, Western Europe there isn`t much consistency about whether a country scores at the top of the pack or the bottom of the pack among the tests. (A big reason is that the packs are pretty similar, so rank order can change easily).

Except Finland.

One reason is that Finland is just about the whitest of the rich white countries. It only recently hopped on the Third World refugee freight train to who knows where. (White American kids would lead all the countries in the world on the PIRLS, unless Asian-Americans had their own country.)

But I guess we should also be taking seriously Finland`s laidback educational techniques, which are, on the whole, the opposite of the more obvious way the northeast Asians grind out high test scores.

By the way, the outstanding Russian performance on these new tests (as opposed to the middling Russian performance on the PISA) is ... interesting.

There might be a niche occupation in the future for somebody to be the Unbiased Expert on international testing.