Norwegian students have produced disappointing scores on the international PISA study, which measures internet reading proficiency in young adults. Despite having the second largest share of students who have access to computers at home, Norwegians earned average scores on the digital test, which was conducted in 16 different OECD countries in 2009. “I believe we have the prerequisites to do better than this,” Kristin Halvorsen, Norway’s minister of Education, told newspaper Aftenposten.
A pool of 1974 Norwegian youngsters participated in the voluntary survey and were given a 40 minute screen-based test which measures reading comprehension, website navigation, and critical research abilities. Norwegians scored an average of 500 points on the test, while South Korea came out on top with an average score of 568. Results from the paper-based comprehension test were moderately better.
When the Norwegian government introduced their knowledge pledge (Kunnskapsløftet) in 2006, digital competence in youths was specified as an area of emphasis, as essential to the education of children as reading, writing and maths. At that time, Norway was the first country in Europe to introduce a curriculum based on digital abilities. “Considering this, it is surprising that Norwegian students did this poorly on the digital reading comprehension test,” Ola Erstad, professor of pedagogy at the University of Oslo, told Aftenposten.
Figures show a large gender gap in Norway, with girls scoring 35 points more than boys. Girls are thus an entire school year ahead of boys in abilities, and though this trend is typical for all the countries participating, only New Zealand has a larger gender gap with a 40 point difference. The fact that young boys are more avid users of the internet for gaming and other leisure activies, has had little effect on their reading comprehension abilities.
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