How do Sweden's Pisa school results compare to other countries?

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
How do Sweden's Pisa school results compare to other countries?

Sweden's schools have climbed back after a sharp drop in the global Pisa education ranking a few years ago, with results in mathematics, reading and science all above the OECD average.


The 2013 edition of the survey was a wake-up call for Sweden, which experienced a sharp drop in the results of 15-year-old students, pushing them below the OECD average and sparking debate about the country's schools.

But Tuesday's release of the 2018 Pisa ranking suggests that Swedish schools have further improved on a recovery that started with the 2016 edition, with above-average scores in reading, mathematics and science.


The report notes that Sweden is back at levels observed in early rankings, despite a rapid increase in the proportion of immigrant students, who tend to score below native-born students, in recent years. In 2018 around 20 percent of students in Sweden had an immigrant background, up from 12 percent in 2009.

In reading performance, non-immigrant 15-year-old students outperformed immigrant students by 83 score points, or 54 score points if adjusting for the students' socio-economic background, suggesting that more work needs to be done to help integrate newly arrived students from other parts of the world.

"On average across OECD countries, 17 percent of [immigrant students] scored in the top quarter of reading performance in 2018. In Sweden, 10 percent of immigrant students performed at that level," notes the report.


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).

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

Reading was their strongest subject, with Swedish 15-year-olds the fifth best in Europe, behind Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Poland.

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

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

Read an in-depth article about the Pisa 2018 report later today on Are you a parent in Sweden? We would love to hear about your experience of Swedish schools. Email [email protected].


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