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The Curse of Success: the impact of the OECDs Programme for International Student Assessment on the discourses of the teaching profession in Finland



In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is an international comparative learning assessment measuring young peoples knowledge and skills, Finland has been ranked at the top in the two rounds conducted and reported so far. In this article, the authors examine the discourses within which Finlands PISA results have been interpreted by the teaching profession in Finland, and how these interpretations of Finlands PISA success together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments PISA may affect national education policy in the future. The main question posed is how do teachers interpret excellence so as to support their attempt to improve their working conditions, when the international success of Finnish education could also be used as proof that all is well. The data comprise editorials published in the official organ of the teachers trade union in Finland, Opettaja-lehti. The analysis shows that in the editorials, success is explained mainly by the expertise of Finnish teachers and their university education. However, the editorials also argue that there is a discrepancy between the good PISA results and the present meagre investments in the education system, the deteriorating school network and the poor appreciation of the education system in Finland. Thus, the editorials use the national PISA results to demand more resources for the Finnish education system.


SHEILA RIDDELL, E. W., JUDITH LITJENS, JIM CROWTHER and JOHN HOLFORD (2007) Developing a Typology of Approaches to Lifelong Learning in Europe: Varieties of Capitalism and Approaches to Lifelong Learning. Working Paper n. 15. LLL2010 Project Consortium

This Working Paper is published in the Working Paper Series of an international research project “Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe: the Contribution of the Education System” (acronym LLL2010) to reflect state of the art results of the research still in progress. The project involves researchers from thirteen countries and regions of Europe: Scotland, England, Ireland,
Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Norway and Russia.
Further information on the project is available online
The project LLL2010 consists of five Subprojects (SPs). This Working Paper is prepared for the Subproject 1
“Review of Literature and Policy Documents”. In addition to the Country Reports, which are published in the LLL2010 Working Paper Series, the Comparative Report “Lifelong Learning: Patterns of Policy in Thirteen European Countries” is also available online.
This paper, then titled “Varieties of Capitalism and Approaches to Lifelong Learning”, was first presented at
the symposium on “Lifelong Learning and Social Justice: macro, micro and meso perspectives”, organised by British Educational Research Association Conference, London Institute of Education, on September 6.-8.,
2007. Further details on this event can be found at

Slavin, R.

Evidence-based Reform in Education: what will it take?

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