Finland and Singapore in PISA 2009: similarities and differences in achievements and school management

Author(s): Soh, Kaycheng

Date: 2014

Pages: p. 455-471

In PISA 2009, Finland and Singapore were both ranked high among the participating nations and have caught much attention internationally. However, a secondary analysis of the means for Reading achievement show that the differences are rather small and are attributable to spurious precision. Hence, the two nations should be considered as being on par with each other in achievements and be assigned the same rank. Spurious precision as a problem of interpreting and reporting research findings has caught the attention of researchers in several other disciplines, though not in the field of education, and this needs to be rectified. In spite of the finding of no differences in PISA Reading achievement, principals in Finland and Singapore differ somewhat in school management and involvement in school matters. It is suggested that some intervening variables (e.g., teachers’ quality and instruction) are needed to explain the correlation (or the lack of it) between principals’ management styles and student Reading achievement. It is also suggested that school principals’ management styles might have been influenced by the cultural milieus of the countries and have influenced students’ social-emotional development, which is not measured by PISA.

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