PISA 2022: Estonia consistently among the world’s best

5 December 2023
by Eva Toome


The PISA 2022 educational survey published on December 5th 2023, shows that the knowledge and skills of Estonian 15-year-olds are at the absolute top in Europe and in the top eight in the world, with the top countries in Asia. This time, the study focused on mathematics but also assessed students’ skills in science and reading. Among European countries, Estonia ranks 1st-2nd in mathematics together with Switzerland, 1st in science and 1st-2nd in reading with Ireland.

The Minister of Education and Research, Kristina Kallas, said that Estonia’s results compared to other countries are characterized by the fact that a significant number of Estonian children achieve baseline level of proficiency in mathematics. “This means that our teachers pay a lot of attention to all children equally in the class, and we achieve the top results in the world not only thanks to the most capable children, but with the above-average result of all children. The professional skills of Estonian teachers are a key here,” said the minister.

Estonia’s continued success

PISA 2022 results were released globally at the same time today. A total of 690,000 students from 81 countries or economic regions took the test in the spring of 2022. In Estonia, 6,392 students from 196 schools took the test. The PISA test consisted of tasks in mathematics, functional reading, science and creative thinking, and this time the emphasis was on mathematics. Students and school heads also completed questionnaires, which have been used to analyse and interpret the test results.

The study showed that in addition to having very good knowledge and skills, Estonian students are mostly satisfied with their lives. The assessment of their life satisfaction (average 6.91 points on a 10-point scale) is higher than the OECD average (6.75), similar to Sweden(6.91) and slightly lower than in Finland (7.41). Boys are more satisfied with their life than girls. Students with a better socioeconomic background are more satisfied.

Students believe in self-improvement and growth mindset

Estonian children also believe that their results are in their own hands. Similarly to the PISA 2018, we rank first in the comparison of countries in terms of growth mindset. This means students believe that they are capable of improving their intelligence and willing to put effort into their development to secure a better future.

In addition, children in Estonia feel safe at school. Students’ sense of security is higher than on average in OECD countries, especially because of the safer way to school. The feeling of safety in the classroom and in other areas of the school is similar to the OECD average. Estonian basic education system supports students to become self-directed learners. Estonia is among the countries where seven out of ten students feel that they are ready for self-directed learning.

Estonia excels in educational autonomy

PISA shows that the headmasters and teachers have a great deal of autonomy. Estonia is in first place in the comparison of countries in terms of teachers’ freedom in setting up the school curriculum and participating in school management decisions.

The biggest challenge in Estonian education, which we are actively dealing with in the coming years, based on the results of the survey, is the lack of qualified teachers, which has increased compared to the previous survey. In addition, the influence of students’ socioeconomic background on receiving quality education has increased, we are approaching the OECD average (Estonia 13.4%; OECD 15.5%). The results of students with the Estonian language of instruction are better than results of students with  Russian language of instruction. The results of students in schools in smaller cities have fallen, but the results are still strong, being 34 points above the OECD average.

All over the world, students’ results have fallen compared to the results of PISA 2018, but the results in Estonia fell less compared to others, which shows that we managed to organize education quite well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about the results of PISA 2022, please visit the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research's website.

See also:
OECD. PISA 2022 results
Estonia. OECD nountry note, PISA 2022


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