The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) stands today at the forefront of tests that measure pupil achievement. As Finland’s successes have turned it into a PISA model, results discrepancies with neighboring Norway, a welfare state sharing similar values, make them appropriate comparative subjects. To understand their differences, this study draws upon functionalism, Bourdieu’s field theory, organizational and learning theories to explore teaching load, pace and complexity (LPC) in their primary classes. This qualitative study uses data from policy documents and class books, as well as, teacher interviews and classroom observations, gathered mainly in the nations’ capitals Oslo and Helsinki. Findings reveal the impact of economic contexts on policies affecting teacher status and education. Finland’s need for knowledge production increased the value of learning outcomes, empowering teachers to decide freely about assessment and differentiation. In Norway, a reliance on oil production limited industries, leading to different cultural aims that kept teachers under managerial control. The study recommends empowering Norwegian teachers to independently assess and differentiate LPC according to pupil’s needs. Further, modifying the math books to include reviews and more exercises to facilitate task automatization. Finally, giving more outdoor free play-time to improve learning. Adjusting LPC, as indicated, will improve Norway’s PISA scores and overall academic performance.