How Norway’s schools compare to other countries in global ranking

Norway’s school children performed worse in reading and science compared to the previous edition of the Pisa education ranking for OECD countries, and are also lagging a little behind their Nordic neighbours.

How Norway's schools compare to other countries in global ranking
Photo: Syda_Productions/Depositphotos

In Tuesday's release of the global 2018 Pisa education ranking, Norwegian schools regressed by 14 points for reading, while the science score was 8 points worse in 2018 than in 2015. For mathematics, Norway’s score improved by one point.

The Pisa ranking, the OECD's programme for international student assessment, is released once every three years.

It is a measurement of 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

The new figures show that schoolgoers’ Nordic peers – particularly those from Finland – are out performing Norwegians in the three key disciplines of reading, mathematics and science.

Norwegian students achieved 499 points in reading, 490 points in science, and 501 points in mathematics.

Of the Nordic countries, Finland scored the highest in reading (520) and science (522), and Denmark clinched the top spot in mathematics (509).

Their Swedish peers meanwhile received a score of 506 in reading, 499 in science and 502 in mathematics.

The OECD average was 487 in reading, and 489 in mathematics and science.


“I have higher ambitions for Norwegian schools and pupils, and I am particularly concerned about the proportion of pupils who perform at the lowest levels,” Minister of Education Jan Tore Sanner said in a written comment to VG.

“Especially in reading, where the decline has been greatest since 2015,” the minister added.

The report also notes, meanwhile, that the index of sense of belonging in Norway was one of the highest among Pisa-participating countries and economies, ranked fourth of 75.

Students in Norway are some of the most co-operative with a rank of 2/77, but also the most competitive at 4/77, compared to other Pisa-participating countries and economies.

So who performed the best globally?

In reading, 15-year-olds in non-OECD member China's provinces Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang received a mean score of 555 in reading, followed by Singapore (549) and Macao (525).

The same trio could be found top in mathematics (591, 569 and 558) and science (590, 551 and 544).

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Have you say on education in Norway in our readers survey. Pictured is a classroom setting. Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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Frazer at The Local Norway.